Jaime Jaquez Jr. gets major love from Jimmy Butler after big game for Miami Heat

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler had some major praise for Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. after the team’s win on Thursday night against the Indiana Pacers.

Jaquez came off the bench against the Pacers and played one of the best games of his career, scoring 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting while adding five rebounds, one assist and one steal.

The rookie played over 30 minutes for the Heat in the win, and he came up huge with Bam Adebayo playing limited minutes due to a hip injury. Butler couldn’t help but give the rookie praise after the game.

“Yeah, without a doubt,” Butler said when asked if some of the things Jaquez does on the floor reminds him of himself. “It’s good to see, and it’s cool ’cause he’s super young. So, he’s – I picked that type of stuff up whenever I was 28, 29. So, he has so much room to get better, and he’s so confident, always working on his game. And he wants to make the right play every time. So, it’s not like he’s a rookie. He knows what it takes to win. He’s done it in college. I’m so happy for him. I’m happy for his success. I want him to continue to grow and continue to help us win.”

This season, Jaquez is averaging 12.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game for the Heat while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 39.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Over his last six games, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft has been on fire for the Heat.

Miami certainly found a diamond in the rough by picking Jaquez in the back half of the first round in the 2023 NBA Draft, and his experience at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has helped him in the NBA this season.

Butler even mentioned Jaquez winning in college as a reason for his success this season.

A four-year player at UCLA, Jaquez averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for the Bruins last season. While he entered the NBA older than many players in his draft class, Jaquez’s experience and maturity have allowed him to make an immediate impact.

With Miami losing rotation pieces like Gabe Vincent and Max Strus this past offseason, Jaquez has immediately stepped up into a key role.

If the rookie keeps playing at a high level, Miami is going to be a tough team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

After beating the Pacers, the Heat are now 11-8 on the season and currently hold the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.

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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.