Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. reportedly suffered a strained left groin at Wednesday’s practice.
Heat update: Nikola Jokic at doctor today, Jaime Jaquez strained his left groin in practice today.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) October 11, 2023
Hopefully for Miami, this won’t be a long-term issue for Jaquez. The rookie played well in his preseason debut against the Charlotte Hornets, scoring 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field.
Jaquez came off the bench for the Heat in the preseason opener, but he played over 20 minutes and finished with seven rebounds, two assists and two turnovers. It was a promising debut for a youngster who could have a role in Miami’s rotation in the 2023-24 season.
The Heat need players like Jaquez and Nikola Jovic to step up for the team now that Max Strus and Gabe Vincent are no longer with the franchise. Strus was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a sign-and-trade move this offseason, while Vincent signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.
Jaquez, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, enters the NBA with 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 collegiate career, Jaquez shot 47.5 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from beyond the arc.
The Heat have four preseason games remaining against the San Antonio Spurs (Oct. 13), Memphis Grizzlies (Oct. 15), Brooklyn Nets (Oct. 18) and Houston Rockets (Oct. 20) before the start of the regular season.
Hopefully, Jaquez’s injury is minor enough for him to get in some more preseason action, as it could give Erik Spoelstra a better gauge on whether or not the young wing can be a part of the team’s rotation to open the season.
The Heat open the 2023-24 season two weeks from Wednesday on Oct. 25 against the Detroit Pistons. Detroit was one of the worst teams in the NBA last season, so Miami would love to open the campaign with a win. That matchup is at home, but the Heat will then play three straight games on the road afterwards.
Once he’s healthy, Jaquez will likely compete with Jovic, Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith and others for minutes on the wing for Miami.