J.J. Redick says Jaime Jaquez Jr. has been best NBA rookie outside of Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA player and current analyst J.J. Redick had some major praise for Miami Heat rookie forward Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Redick believes that Jaquez has been the best rookie in the NBA outside of San Antonio Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama and Oklahoma City Thunder big man Chet Holmgren.

Wembanyama was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and expected to make an immediate impact for the Spurs. Holmgren is a little bit of a unique situation, as he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but a foot injury kept him out of the entire 2022-23 season.

The Heat took Jaquez with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and he has contributed immediately to the team this season. A four-year player at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Jaquez entered the NBA with more experience than a lot of players in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Last season, Jaquez averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for the Bruins, and he’s shown that he can contribute at a high level on offense in the NBA. So far, he has 10 different games where he’s scored in double figures.

Overall in the 2023-24 season, Jaquez is averaging 11.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game for the Heat while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra clearly trusts Jaquez, as he’s started the rookie in four of the 18 games he’s appeared in. Jaquez is also playing a healthy 26.2 minutes per game.

Even though the team took Nikola Jovic in the first round in the 2022 NBA Draft, Jaquez has already earned more minutes than him so far this season.

While Wembanyama and Holmgren may have more prominent roles on their own teams, there is no doubt that the Heat rookie is making an impact. There were several players picked over Jaquez in the 2023 NBA Draft, but he has fit perfectly into Miami’s system.

The Heat are hoping that Jaquez can remain a key rotation piece for them through this season and beyond.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.