Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s immediate reaction to being selected by Miami Heat

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The Miami Heat are coming off a second loss in the NBA Finals in the last four years, and they are apparently willing to do whatever it takes to earn their fourth Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The first step came on Thursday when they took University of California, Los Angeles guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. with the No. 18 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. He called being chosen by the Heat “surreal” and he feels he can contribute thanks to his experience.

Jaquez, a 6-foot-6 forward, recently participated in a workout for Miami. He averaged 17.8 points a game this past season for the Bruins while shooting 48.1 percent from the field, and his 8.2 rebounds a game suggests he can help Miami on the boards.

But perhaps his best attribute is his defense, as he was named to a Pac-12 All-Defensive team in his sophomore and junior seasons. In addition, in the 2022-23 campaign, which was his senior season, he earned the Pac-12 Player of the Year award.

He could be something of an insurance policy in case Max Strus, one of the Heat’s most important role players, leaves this summer in free agency.

During the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets earlier this month, the Heat had some trouble containing Aaron Gordon, so wing defense is something that they could certainly use.

But their biggest need is another legitimate offensive threat, especially in the backcourt. They were last in points per game during the regular season, and their lack of overall offense over the last few years has resulted in many slow starts for them, especially in big games.

The big rumor, of course, is that Miami may try to land Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers. It already struck out on trying to acquire Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards, and it will likely need a player of that caliber to get over the hump.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif. and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s, and during that time he has lived through the Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James era of Heat basketball. He feels strongly that the NBA and sports aren't just entertainment, but also a means for learning life lessons.