One of the more exciting aspects of the Miami Heat's rollercoaster of a season has been watching the emergence of a new star in Jaime Jaquez Jr., the rookie out of UCLA. With the injury to Jimmy Butler who will be out several weeks with an MCL sprain, Jaquez will be getting an extended role with Miami as they face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

Butler was injured in the first quarter of the Heat's first play-in tournament loss to the Philadelphia 76ers which resulted in the aforementioned diagnosis. Subsequently, this prompted Jaquez to start the second tourney game against the Chicago Bulls and show out with 21 points where the two do share similarities in how they play as the first-year player talks about what he's learned from Butler.

“You got to bring that intensity. That's something that as a team we've definitely felt you know, when he comes in and brings out intensity we all just get behind him and rally,” Jaquez said. “I think that's one of the biggest things that I've taken away from him is his approach to the game and if I don't care what happens mentality, he's gonna go out there and just do whatever you can to win. Whether that's putting the ball in the basket, getting steals, rebounds, just whatever it takes.”

Bam Adebayo praises Jaquez in crucial game with Heat season on the line

Miami Heat guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (11) dribbles the basketball as Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso (6) defends in the fourth quarter during a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Kaseya Center.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

He is likely to start Game 1 of the series against the Celtics which will be his first taste of the playoffs as a player in the NBA which he shared his excitement in doing. Comparatively, another player who shares that sentiment is Heat star Bam Adebayo who saw a lot to love from Jaquez in the win over the Bulls.

“Oh man. He just brought that aggression from the start,” Adebayo said to ClutchPoints. “I think his first bucket was an and-one. He just kept his head down, keep bringing plays and making plays.”

Erik Spoelstra talks Jaquez's introspective rookie season

There has been no one but Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra that has touted Jaquez more than him as he has time and time again shown the trust in the 21-year old, despite his inexperience. Consequently, Spoelstra spoke after the game about Jaquez and how he's had to adapt from being scouted against which is a “sign of respect.”

“He's gotten a lot better,” Spoelstra said. “Right before we shut him down. He started to appear on everybody's scouting report. And that's a sign of respect. I think early on in the season, he was just playing freely. I don't think anybody was scheming against him and he took advantage of all that, you'd have to be a mature and skilled player to be able to do that. Things changed and then hiss health kind of for forced them to take a step back.”

“But where he is now, I don't care about what his stats are, what kind of numbers he's putting up, he's much better than where he was in November,” Spoelstra continued. “He can read defenses, he can see the the next layer of the defense, his understanding of our defense system is much better. I think it's passing is really improved. And we're pretty grateful for that because we're going to need all that now, in particular with Jimmy being out.”

Nevertheless, the Heat and Celtics meet for the fourth time in five years starting Sunday afternoon where Jaquez will get a chance to shine. However, there's no doubt Miami will be the overwhelming underdogs without Butler and even Terry Rozier who was ruled inactive against his former team with a neck injury.