Jaime Jaquez Jr. has solidly moved into third place on any NBA Rookie of the Year watch worth its salt. Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren is a near-runaway for the award – and rightly so – and Victor Wembanyama’s raw numbers make him an obvious second.
But as good as other rookies like Brandon Miller, Derek Lively II and Brandin Podziemski have been, Jaquez is doing the most for the best team.
A reminder: Holmgren was selected with the second overall pick in 2022, Wembanyama was the first overall pick last June. Jaquez was picked 18th. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
There must be several teams kicking themselves that they didn’t take Jaquez before the Heat scooped him up in the lower half of the first round. Let’s take a look at the teams who are regretting passing on Jaquez the most, counting down to the team that regrets it the most.
3. Toronto Raptors
With the 13th pick, the Raptors selected Kansas hot-shot Gradey Dick. He was supposed to be an NBA-ready player, but he’s barely cracked the rotation for a mediocre Raptors squad.
There may be more opportunities for Dick now that OG Anunoby is playing in New York, but Jaquez seems like a great fit within Toronto’s new Scottie Barnes-centered universe. It’s easy to imagine Jaquez cutting and shooting off Barnes creating shots from the middle of the floor.
It’s too early to say Dick won’t pan out. He’s got good size, is only 20 and also projects to be the kind of player who fits well next to Barnes. Jaquez is also 22, so it’s unclear how much he’d fit into Toronto’s timeline. But if the Raptors knew that Jaquez was capable of what he’s shown in Miami, they may have taken him in the lottery.