Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. earns praise from multiple Boston Celtics legends

3 Min Read
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Jaime Jaquez Jr. continues to draw rave reviews for his somewhat surprising rookie season, and former Boston Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce each joined that chorus with recent remarks about the Miami Heat standout.

Though he was just the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Jaquez has been one of the league’s top rookies this season alongside higher-profile players such as Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs and Chet Holmgren of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The fact that Jaquez compares respectably to a No. 1 overall pick (Wembanyama in 2023) and a No. 2 overall selection (Holmgren in 2022) speaks volumes about his season to date.

As a somewhat older rookie at 22 years of age, Jaquez is averaging 13.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game in 29 appearances. He is the only Heat player to appear in all of their games this season.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) product entered the league with a wealth of experience gained during a four-year collegiate career. Garnett spoke highly of the young player’s feel for the game.

“Very seasoned, bro,” Garnett said of Jaquez. “I’m talkin’ about big shots, knows time and score. … His technique, I’m like, ‘Damn.'”

Considered one of the biggest steals of the 2023 NBA Draft, Jaquez has maintained that he wanted to land with the Heat all along. He emerged as one of the league’s best rookies earlier in the season, with ESPN analyst J.J. Redick mentioning the idea last month, and he has continued to enhance his reputation with his consistent play.

Jaquez’s contributions were indeed necessary in the early part of the 2023-24 NBA season with teammate Tyler Herro out for an extended period after he injured his ankle in early November. Though Herro is back on the court, the Heat also have dealt with other assorted injuries up and down the roster and have used 17 different players and 13 different starters so far.

Despite all of that, they have won five of their past seven games and are taking a 17-12 record into their Christmas night matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. The marquee game will provide the nation an opportunity to see Jaquez perform and what Garnett, Pierce and other NBA observers have been raving about.

Share This Article
Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.