Report: Jaime Jaquez Jr. hoped to land with Heat due partly to Jimmy Butler being his favorite NBA player

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

According to The Athletic’s William Guillory, Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. wished to be drafted by the Heat due in part to Jimmy Butler being his favorite player in the league.

“The team picking next was the real dream scenario for Jaquez Jr. and his family,” Guillory wrote of the Heat, who had the No. 18 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. “The Heat had everything they were looking for: A new city with a diverse culture, a team that prioritized winning to the highest degree and the presence of both of their idols. While Jaquez Sr. hoped his son could be attached to [Pat] Riley and protégé Erik Spoelstra, the younger Jaquez zeroed in on Butler, who had eclipsed [Kobe] Bryant as his favorite NBA player.”

The younger Jaquez spoke about his admiration of Butler.

“I loved watching Jimmy because he’s a complete player on both ends and he leaves everything on the floor,” he said. “He’s a winner, and that’s the type of player I want to be.”

The 23-year-old was indeed drafted by the Heat with the No. 18 pick and has been a consistent member of the team’s rotation in his rookie season. He has played in 64 games in the 2023-24 regular season thus far and is averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game on 48.6 percent shooting from the field and 31.5 percent shooting from deep.

But after getting off to a hot start to his maiden NBA season, the younger Jaquez has cooled off a bit in recent weeks from a scoring standpoint. In the month of March, he is averaging 10.1 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting from the floor and 30.0 percent shooting from long range.

In addition, he has reached double digits in scoring in just one of his last seven games. The younger Jaquez is only a few days removed from a poor scoring performance against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 22, when he scored just three points and converted only one of his seven shots from the field. He only logged about 14 minutes of action in that one.

While it seems like the younger Jaquez has been in a slump lately, Butler has been solid for the Heat in March. He is averaging 21.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.4 steals per contest this month.

Butler has also scored 30 points or more in a game twice this month, including a 37-point scoring outburst in a win over the Utah Jazz on March 2. The 34-year-old also contributed three rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block against the Jazz.

The younger Jaquez, Butler and the Heat still have a lot to play for between now and the end of the regular season.

Miami currently sits as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference at 39-32 but is just one game behind the Indiana Pacers for the No. 6 seed. If the Heat are a top-six seed at the end of the regular season, they will avoid the play-in tournament and advance straight to the playoffs.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.