Rookie Jaime Jaquez became an immediate rotation player for the surging Heat, playing the fifth-most minutes and recording the fifth-highest scoring total for Miami thus far. In his first NBA season, Jaquez is already becoming a late-game staple for Miami during its seven-game winning streak, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.
The UCLA product has played the full fourth quarter in each of the Heat’s past five games of their win streak. He ranks third entering Saturday in minutes played in the fourth quarter among rookies across the league, behind only Bilal Coulibaly and Toumani Camara.
“All of those things that you need to win on the road and that you would like to develop out of your team, those are his strengths,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “The grit, the perseverance, the mental and the emotional stability. He’s learning things, but he typically doesn’t make the same mistake twice. So these experiences in the fourth quarter are like exponential 10x opportunities for him.”
Jaquez is averaging 9.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 49.5% from the floor. Chiang observes that Jaquez’s defense is already impressive, and he’s already drawing defensive assignments on the likes of Anthony Edwards, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young and LeBron James.
“I just learned and felt like this is where I belong,” Jaquez said. “This is where I want to be at, in the NBA. I feel like I can play. There’s a lot of things I still need to learn, but I felt comfortable out there and I felt like I’m ready to play and that I belong in this league.”
Miami got reinforcements in their last game, with Caleb Martin returning to the lineup. Martin was on a minutes restriction, according to Chiang, but he’s feeling like himself again after missing the previous 10 games. “I thought he fit in great,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t think he tried to overdo those 12 minutes. We had a pretty good understanding of what it would look like. He just fits in very seamlessly with how we’ve been playing and that’s on both ends of the court.” The Heat went with a bench lineup of Jaquez, Martin, Josh Richardson and Kevin Love, with Thomas Bryant and Dru Smith out of the rotation with Martin healthy.
The Heat are rumored to be one of the teams that both could have interest in Bulls star Zach LaVine and that could appeal to him. However, Chiang questions whether LaVine makes sense for Miami in a mailbag. As Chiang notes, LaVine is owed $40+M in each of the next three seasons, as well as owning a player option worth just under $50M in 2026-27. Additionally, the fit could be questionable alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Chiang points to Alex Caruso as someone who makes sense on the court for Miami. However, there’s no indication he’ll be available for trade and even if he is, it could require at least one first-round pick, which Chiang is skeptical the Heat would offer.
Heat two-way guard R.J. Hampton is expected to be out an extended period of time with a knee injury, according to Ira Winderman of South Florida’s Sun Sentinel (Twitter link).
It’s currently unclear just how much time Hampton will be missing, but it’s an obvious setback for a former first-round pick who looked impressive in training camp. Hampton, 22, appeared in just one game with the Heat so far this year, but averaged 8.5 points and 4.0 assists in two preseason games.
Rookie Jaime Jaquez has swiftly become a key player for the successful Miami Heat, contributing significantly during their seven-game winning streak. In his debut NBA season, Jaquez is already a regular presence in late-game situations, featuring prominently in the fourth quarter of the Heat’s recent victories. Coach Erik Spoelstra praises Jaquez’s strengths, including grit, perseverance, and emotional stability, highlighting his rapid learning curve. Jaquez is displaying versatility, averaging 9.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals with impressive defense against top opponents.
Miami welcomed back Caleb Martin in their last game, with the player on a minutes restriction after missing the previous 10 games. Martin seamlessly fits into the Heat’s playing style, providing a valuable contribution in both offense and defense. The Heat’s lineup features Jaquez, Martin, Josh Richardson, and Kevin Love, with Thomas Bryant and Dru Smith out of the rotation.
There are rumors about the Heat’s interest in Bulls star Zach LaVine, but questions arise about the feasibility of the move due to LaVine’s substantial contract and potential compatibility issues with existing key players. The article suggests that Alex Caruso could be a more fitting option, but doubts persist about his availability and the Heat’s willingness to part with a first-round pick.
In less positive news, Heat two-way guard R.J. Hampton is expected to be sidelined for an extended period due to a knee injury, posing a setback for the promising former first-round pick who showcased talent during training camp. The exact duration of Hampton’s absence remains uncertain.