Welcome to Hot Or Not, our weekly column where we take a look at some players on the Miami Heat whose stock is rising or falling. This week, we’re taking stock of Jaime Jaquez Jr., Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Who is not hot might surprise you.
Hot: Jaime Jaquez Jr. ⬆️
In nearly every game this season, the Heat have run some variation of this play. For lack of a better term, I’m calling it “UCLA,” because it’s similar to what Jaime Jaquez Jr. ran in college.
Duncan Robinson dumps the ball into Jaquez in the post, then sprints around a screen set by the center. Jaquez makes a simple read: Hit Robinson through the passing window or, if that’s not open, take it to the basket himself. In the Heat’s season-opening win against the Pistons, Jaquez scored twice and had one assist in the three times they ran “UCLA.”
Three nights later in Minnesota, the Heat ran “UCLA” again. Without a defensive mismatch on his back (Kyle Anderson is a big and sturdy wing defender) and with Robinson’s defender going over Thomas Bryant’s screen, Jaquez found Robinson cutting for an easy layup.
The Heat don’t have a ton of ways to create easy offense. The Bam Adebayo-Duncan Robinson dribble handoff has been a staple since 2020, and the team is trying to get more out of the Tyler Herro-Adebayo pick-and-roll. Even Jimmy Butler’s offense is of a higher degree of difficulty (more on this later). Erik Spoelstra has this “UCLA” set in his back pocket, and Jaquez is routinely making the right reads.
But Jaquez doesn’t need Spoelstra to dial up “UCLA” to create easy buckets, either. Against Minnesota, he made a pair of high-level cuts for layups. Here, he notices Mike Conley cheating toward the Kyle Lowry-Adebayo pick-and-roll, so he darts toward the basket and raises his hand for the ball. Lowry wastes no time in getting him the ball on the move.
We heard coaches and teammates heap praise on Jaquez through training camp because of his “veteran” approach to the game. It’s easy to roll your eyes at the oft-used sports cliche, but three games prove it was more than lip service. Jaquez can play.