8. Jaime Jaquez Jr. is ready
The rookie forward is sixth in total minutes, fifth in shot attempts, fourth in offensive rebounds, tied for fifth in assists (with Robinson) and first in steals on the Heat.
The Heat are 5.2 points better every 100 possessions with Jaquez, the 18th pick in June’s draft, on the court. They have run offense for him out of the mid-post but Jaquez seems to thrive even more when the play isn’t designed for him.
He’s already one of Miami’s most opportunistic cutters.
He uses his strong frame to establish post position early in transition.
Jaquez has played in all 10 games this season and even started three. He appears to have solidified his spot in the rotation. When Caleb Martin returns from his knee injury, Spoelstra will have to yank someone else from the lineup.
9. Nikola Jovic is not ready
As intriguing as Jovic’s skillset is, the Heat don’t feel comfortable with giving him minutes at this point.
Jovic has logged just 28 minutes in two games this season and hasn’t played at all during the five-game win streak. (He was unavailable for two games with a non-COVID illness last week.)
The Heat want Jovic to get better defensively. Despite his impressive FIBA World Cup performance, he is still learning the finer details of the NBA game and the Heat are working with him to play different coverages, whether it’s showing, dropping or playing zone.
“It’s just on me to continue to work,” Jovic recently told the Miami Herald. “These guys do a great job of developing players, and I think I’ve developed a lot since last year and I think I’ll be even better this year. My chances will come and I hope I’m going to be play good when it comes.”
10. Best guess at the healthy rotation
After working out some of the kinks and dealing with early injuries, Spoelstra appears to have landed on a rotation for when the team is healthy. We won’t know exactly what it is until Martin and Herro return, but here’s an educated guess at Spoelstra’s top nine:
PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: Tyler Herro / Duncan Robinson
SF: Jimmy Butler / Caleb Martin
PF: Haywood Highsmith / Jaime Jaquez Jr.
C: Bam Adebayo / Kevin Love
Notice that Josh Richardson, Dru Smith and Thomas Bryant aren’t part of it. Spoelstra could play any of them spot minutes for a 9 ½-man rotation, but Richardson hasn’t made the most of his minutes and could lose his spot in the rotation to Martin.
Dru Smith will play when Lowry needs to rest or is unavailable.
The Love/Bryant decision could end up being matchup-dependent.
Spoelstra will likely continue to stagger Lowry and Herro’s minutes to make sure one of his top ball-handlers is on the court at all times. Herro has played well with the reserve-heavy lineup.