At the halfway point of the season, the Miami Heat should be happy where they currently are in the standings. The Heat sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 24-16 record. Although the fourth and eighth seeds are only separated by about two games, Miami should feel confident maintaining their position now that the team is starting to get healthy.
There are several players who have helped Miami have a solid start to the 2023-24 season, but a few players exceeded expectations. Here are three players who stepped up for the Heat for the first half of the season.
Jaime Jaquez Jr.
When the Miami Heat drafted Jamie Jaquez Jr. out of UCLA with the 18th pick, they expected him to make an immediate impact after playing four years of college basketball. Probably no one expected him to be this good this early.
Jaquez is currently ranked third in the Rookie of the Year race, behind Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren. He has won Rookie of the Month for the Eastern Conference twice this season, a number that should increase by the end of the season.
Coach Erik Spoelstra already trusts him to be one of the closing five for the Heat. Recently, he has been a floor general in the closing moments of the game with Lowry missing games. He has done everything Spoelstra has asked him to do so far. He has earned the respect of the Heat organization with his impressive level of play to start the season. Nothing epitomizes that more than Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade calling the rookie “a baller”.