Jaime Jaquez Jr. tries to explain struggling for Miami Heat since return from injury

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat swingman Jaime Jaquez Jr. has defied expectations in his first season in the NBA.

Not many people thought he would end up being one of the best players of his draft class. Yet, he has already won two Rookie of the Month awards and has been a regular fixture on KIA Rookie Ladder lists.

Unfortunately, Jaquez seems to have hit a rookie wall stemming from a groin injury that hit him in mid-January and sidelined him for several games.

He recently shared his thoughts about the dip in his production that has plagued his game since returning from the injury.

“It could be many things,” Jaquez said. “I don’t want to put it on one particular thing. I think most of it is just me just trying to be mentally ready. I’m just going out there trying to play my game and do what I can to help the team win.”

It’s worth noting that a groin injury is tricky to deal with. For instance, the first time former Heat star LeBron James had to stay on the sidelines for an extended period was when he sustained a groin injury in the 2018-19 season, his first with the Los Angeles Lakers. Since then, the four-time MVP has had to endure some pain or soreness in his groin occasionally.

It doesn’t seem like Jaquez wants to attribute the decline in his performance to the groin injury he incurred nearly two months ago.

Still, the numbers don’t lie.

Before the injury, the 23-year-old had been recording 14.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from beyond the arc.

In contrast, he has been averaging 9.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest since returning from a six-game absence. His efficiency has also taken a dip, with a field-goal percentage of 43.9 percent and a 3-point shooting percentage of 23.9 percent.

Jaquez also acknowledged that opponents may be wiser to his act now, although he finds it a sign of respect that he seems to be featured more prominently in other teams’ scouting reports.

Hopefully, the University of California, Los Angeles product can find ways to get back to his former self. The Heat might need it as they try to climb in the Eastern Conference standings.

At the moment, the team holds the No. 7 seed with a 40-33 record. A top-six seed is still attainable, though, if it wants to secure an outright playoff berth instead of having to go through the play-in tournament like it did last season.

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Orel writes all day, everyday. During the day, he writes and does research to complete his master's degree in education. During the night, he writes about the league he has loved since the '90s: the NBA.