Jaime Jaquez Jr. could have surprise in store for Dunk Contest: ‘Make sure you watch’

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. might have a surprise in store for the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night.

While the rookie didn’t give away any secrets, he did send a message to make sure people tune into his performance.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Jaquez said. “I’m not going to give away any secrets right now. But you guys all tune in and make sure you watch.”

Jaquez will be competing against Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown, defending champion Mac McClung and New York Knicks forward Jacob Toppin in this year’s event.

The Heat rookie shared that he looked back on some previous dunk contests to give himself some inspiration for his own dunks on Saturday night.

“I looked at some old dunk contests just for some inspiration and nostalgia just to see what guys were bringing,” Jaquez said. “I’m trying to put my own little twist on everything.”

There’s no doubt that Jaquez can get up there and dunk with some of the best players in the NBA, but he’ll certainly need to pull out some impressive finishes to win this year’s contest.

The last Miami player to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest was wing Derrick Jones Jr., who won it back in 2020.

For Jaquez, participating in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest is a bit of a dream come true, and he has a chance to put his name in the history books amongst the other players that have won the storied event.

“I always loved dunking,” he said. “I was obsessed with it. Whenever I was a kid, I would always dream about being able to dunk. Now, here I am in the Dunk Contest. So I think that little kid would be proud of himself.”

The No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Jaquez has quickly become a key part of Miami’s rotation, and he’s a big reason why the team has been able to weather the storm with Jimmy Butler missing 18 games already this season. Miami is 11-7 with Butler out of the lineup.

Jaquez is averaging 12.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from 3-point range. He’s appeared in 49 games for the Heat, playing 29.5 minutes per game.

The rookie is already having an impressive season, but he could add another milestone to it on Saturday night. Heat fans certainly will want to tune in to see what he has planned for his dunks.

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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.