On Tuesday, the NBA released the results of a general manager survey ahead of the start of the 2023-24 regular season. One of the questions posed to the league’s general managers was who they think is the biggest steal of the 2023 NBA Draft.
Houston Rockets forward Cam Whitmore — who was selected with the No. 20 overall pick — finished first with 43 percent of the votes. But Miami Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. finished in a three-way tie with Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George and Portland Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson for the second spot on the list, as they each earned 10 percent of the votes.
Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?
1. Cam Whitmore (20), Houston – 43%
T-2. Keyonte George (16), Utah – 10%
T-2. Scoot Henderson (3), Portland – 10%
T-2. Jaime Jaquez Jr. (18), Miami – 10%
5. Brandin Podziemski (19), Golden State – 7%
» Also receiving votes: Emoni Bates (49), Cleveland; Leonard Miller (33), Minnesota; Marcus Sasser (25), Detroit; Brice Sensabaugh (28), Utah; Ausar Thompson (5), Detroit; Jordan Walsh (38), Boston
» Last year: Jalen Duren and Tari Eason – 14%
Jaquez was chosen by the Heat with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft after a four-season stint playing college basketball at the University of California, Los Angeles. He put together a forgettable freshman season with the Bruins, however. Jaquez served as a role player during his first season of college basketball, as he averaged 8.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game across 31 appearances with the Bruins during the 2019-20 season.
It wasn’t until the forward’s senior season with the Bruins, the 2022-23 season, that he solidified himself as one of the best players at his position in the nation. Jaquez stuffed the stat sheet as a senior, seeing as how he averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.6 blocks per game in 37 games played with the Bruins (all starts). The 22-year-old also converted 48.1 percent of his field-goal attempts and 31.7 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Jaquez led the 2022-23 iteration of the Bruins to an excellent 31-6 record and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, where they lost to Gonzaga University by a final score of 79-76. Former Gonzaga star Drew Timme scored 36 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out four assists in the game, while Jaquez scored 29 points for the Bruins.
Heat fans shouldn’t be surprised if Jaquez is a consistent member of Miami’s rotation during the 2023-24 regular season. After all, he doesn’t have a whole lot of weaknesses as a player and plays well on both ends of the floor.