The Miami Heat may have missed out on adding a star this past offseason, but they seemed to have hit the jackpot in the draft by selecting Jaime Jaquez Jr. with the No. 18 pick.
The University of California, Los Angeles product has had a solid rookie campaign so far, averaging 11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while shooting efficiently from the field and beyond the arc. Even so, he is likely still far behind the likes of Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama in the Rookie of the Year race.
Interestingly, the 22-year-old seemingly couldn’t care less about the award. Asked by HoopsHype how he feels on where he falls in the discussions for Rookie of the Year, he answered that he is more focused on helping the Heat win.
“I don’t really pay attention to that,” he said. “I’m focused on winning games, whether I was a rookie or not. That’s my main focus, win games. As far as that conversation, it’s not something I pay attention to.”
Jaquez already said he planned on making an immediate impact on winning in the NBA. That is likely what Miami wants to hear from its rookie, as the team is hoping to make a return to the Finals after losing to the Denver Nuggets in the championship stage last season.
While some might think that is an unrealistic goal for the Heat because of the level of competition this year, the young forward has a different mindset.
“We’re here to win,” stated Jaquez. “We’re trying to get back to the NBA Finals. I think we have a great team this year. We just need to stay healthy. I don’t think that’s unrealistic to get back to the Finals and say our goal is to win it. That’s why you play this game. You don’t play it to get second place.”
Apparently, Jaquez has no other objective but to help the Heat rack up wins, saying that the accolades will follow as long as he is focused on what matters.
“No, because I learned that if you win, everything else will come with it,” he answered when asked what goals he has for himself besides winning. “If you keep that the main thing, the rest of those accolades are going to follow because that’s really what matters. It makes everyone happy.”
Miami appears to have made the right choice drafting a four-year college player rather than using its pick on a high-risk, high-reward prospect. The maturity Jaquez has shown will likely have more people talking highly of him, particularly the Heat figures who gushed about him after his solid NBA debut.
The Heat are currently just 10-7, good for No. 7 in the East at the moment. They have lost three of their past five contests right after pulling off seven straight wins. Hopefully, Jaquez and the rest of the team can get the team back in the winning column.