Jaime Jaquez Jr. of the Miami Heat has been one of the NBA’s most impressive rookies so far this year.
Both on the court due to his caliber of play, and off it due to his immeasurable swag with the ladies, the 22-year-old has left a huge impression.
Miami plucked Jaquez Jr., a UCLA star, out of the draft this past season at No. 18. He immediately started paying dividends for Erik Spoelstra and Co., helping lead the Heat to a 19-14 mark despite the fact that they have been without a lot of key contributors for large swaths of the season.
So far the former Bruin is averaging 13.7 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field and 35.4 percent from beyond the arc.
What is interesting about Jaquez Jr. is that, despite him having played college ball in SoCal, the Los Angeles Lakers opted not to take him at No. 17. They took Jalen Hood-Schifino.
As it turns out, that was something of a blessing for Jaquez Jr.
This week, he spoke to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel and revealed that he didn’t actually want the Lakers to take him.
“I wanted to get away,” he said. “I think, for myself, I thought it was important for me to be able to go out of my comfort zone and experience something new. I didn’t want to be a guy that said, ‘Oh, I just stayed in Southern California all my life.’
“I wanted to go live in a different, new place. And that’s why I was very excited to go to Miami. It was new. Everyone compares it, but I think it’s very, very different.”
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It is good that Jaquez Jr. got what he wanted in that regard, but it is hard not to feel like the Lakers really botched their pick.
Jaquez Jr. looks incredible for Miami.
Will Jaquez Jr. ultimately find a way back to Los Angeles at some point in what will hopefully be a long NBA career? Time will tell.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.