Back in 2017, the Miami Heat selected Bam Adebayo with the 14th pick in the NBA Draft, and in the moment, it felt like a steal. Now we didn't know at the time that Josh Jackson, Jonathan Isaac, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Zach Collins and Luke Kennard would ALL go on to be considered busts, but there was not a world in which all of those guys should've gone ahead of Adebayo. In short time, Adebayo established himself as a pillar of the Miami Heat organization… a guy who embodied what Heat culture was all about.

And now we're living the same damn thing again with Miami's prized rookie, the 18th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Jaime Jaquez Jr. As was the case with Adebayo, we knew in the moment it was a steal that Jaquez Jr. had fallen to the Heat. After all, he was the prospect who most embodied Heat culture, and in his career at UCLA, Jaquez Jr. played in no shortage of big games. Now, he was coming into the NBA, playing for the most stable franchise in the league. Why should we be surprised that Jaquez Jr. is having an immediate impact when Adebayo himself isn't stunned to see the rookie taking off?


In a game where the two biggest stars in the matchup — Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid — both didn't play due to injury, it was a star-making performance for the mature rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., who introduced himself to a national audience, finishing the game with a career-high 31 points on 11-for-15 shooting from the field and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line in Miami's win.

At this point in the season, Jaquez Jr. is the only Heat played who hasn't missed any of Miami's games, and in 28.9 minutes per game, he's averaging 13.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steal per game with 52-38-82 shooting splits. It's starting to feel like the kind of season Jalen Williams had in Oklahoma City last year. Williams immediately proved that he was a mature rookie who could play multiple positions for a competitive team, only this year, Jaquez Jr. might have already shown he has even a higher ceiling, and the “competitive team” he's playing for is the defending Eastern Conference Champions.