The Victor Wembanyama NBA Draft sarcastically included other prospects.
The Miami Heat held the 18th pick. Wembanyama most likely was on a plane to San Antonio, Texas, by the time they were on the clock.
The Heat knows how to identify the right people to be in the system. The Heat Culture system.
The Heat selected Jaime Jaquez Jr. in the first round, 18th overall of the 2023 NBA Draft.
He is a bring your lunch box to work player. Tough hard nose and always plays hard. Fits right in for the Heat.
“I know what this organization is about; it is about toughness and willing to work, put in that work to be the best player you can be,” Jaquez Jr. said. “That is what I have always been about; I am excited and can’t wait to get to work.”
Jaquez Jr. is fundamentally sound, a terrific isolated scorer, a good rebounder, and excellent footwork. He shoots 30 percent from three but can knock down a three. He has toughness when playing well with teammates.
At age 22, he is an older player ready to contribute immediately; he has played in multiple sweet sixteens’ and been to a Final Four.
“Any experience is a good experience; that is what I tried to emphasize to these teams,” Jaquez Jr. said. “I have a lot of experience and games under my belt that I can help an NBA team.”
Heat Culture is written all over this pick.
“I am a guy who makes an impact on the game,” Jaquez Jr. said. “My biggest quality is making impactful winning plays, getting steals, getting a deflection, getting a big rebound, little things that impact the game in a major way.”
Jaquez Jr. is part of a growing club of Mexican players born or decent. He will wear number 11.
Jaquez Jr., a four-year starter at UCLA, started all 37 games for the Bruins last season, averaged 17.8 points, and grabbed a team-best 8.2 rebounds. He finished as just one of nine players in school history to rank among the Top 15 in scoring and rebounding while becoming the first player over the last 30 years to lead the team in rebounding for three-straight seasons. He led the team in points, rebounds, field goals made, minutes, games played, and starts and finished second in assists, steals, and blocks.
“Kobe Bryant was my favorite player growing up; his footwork was impeccable,” Jaquez Jr said. “You saw what he did in the post area. His spins, fakes, I developed my own, half spin is what I turned to, creates space, and helps me get a good look at a shot.”
Jaquez Jr. was named the 2023 Pac-12 Player of the Year, marking UCLA’s first selection since HEAT player Kevin Love in 2008. Additionally, he was named the Lute Olson National Player of the Year, earned All-Pac-12 and USBWA All-District IX First Team honors, was a consensus All-America Second Team selection, earned Pac-12 Player of the Week three times, was one of 10 semifinalists for the 2023 Naismith Trophy and among five finalists for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.
The Heat passed on Cam Whitmore, who the Houston Rockets selected 20th overall. There were no direct reasons from the Heat; however, there were reports of medical red flags, average workouts, and interviews. He shoots amazingly from the field and has a pro-ready body.