Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. draws major praise from rival NBA scout'
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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

One veteran NBA scout had some major praise for Miami Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. ahead of the rookie’s first NBA game earlier this week.

Jaquez had a solid debut on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons, and it likely didn’t come as a surprise to this scout, who believes the first-year player is ready to contribute right away.

“Huge fan of his,” the scout told the Miami Herald. “He’s a throwback in that he’s a four-year player, the most experienced college player in the draft. I like the toughness. He can defend. He’s going to affect winning, and he’s not going to hurt you or do something crazy. He’s ready to play today.”

Against the Pistons, Jaquez shot 3-for-3 from the field (he did not attempt a 3-point shot) and scored six points in just over 13 minutes of playing time. The rookie also chipped in two rebounds, two assists and two steals in Miami’s win.

It was a strong debut for Jaquez, who appears to be a part of Erik Spoelstra’s rotation – at least for now. The Heat are down Josh Richardson and Haywood Highsmith at the moment, so it’s possible one of those players will eat into Jaquez’s workload in the future.

Regardless, it’s great to see the rookie playing well in his first NBA action, and he clearly has some support from around the league.

Jaquez, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, has a little more basketball experience than some rookies since he played four seasons at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

During the 2022-23 season, Jaquez averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for the Bruins. For his college career, Jaquez shot 47.5 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from beyond the arc.

His experience in college certainly made him one of the more polished players entering the 2023 NBA Draft. It may also be a reason why Spoelstra trusts him to play right away. The Heat had a very different approach with 2022 first-round pick Nikola Jovic last season, as he appeared in just 15 games during his rookie campaign (excluding the playoffs).

The Heat are hoping that Jaquez can build on his strong debut to become a consistent contributor for the team this season and beyond. Miami and Jaquez will get a chance to keep things rolling against the Boston Celtics on Friday night.

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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.