The Miami Heat selected UCLA G/F Jaime Jaquez Jr. with the No. 18 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday night.
The Heat enter a pivotal offseason after becoming just the second No. 8-seed to reach the NBA Finals. Despite finishing with a 44-38 record and losing their initial game in the play-in tournament, the Heat went on to punch their ticket to a historic postseason run. After fending off the top-seed Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, and second-seed Boston Celtics, Miami would go on to fall to the Denver Nuggets 4-1 in the Finals.
It remains to be seen whether the No. 18 selection can fill the Heat’s number one priority in finding a third elite-offensive player to pair with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Miami ranked 25th in offensive rating (113.0) in the regular season, and drafting an offensive-minded prospect could help shoulder the load in that area.
A pull-up threat, particularly from deep, could go a long way as well as Miami finished 22nd in team three-point percentage (35.1%). As was illustrated in the Finals, if the Heat’s outside shooting goes ice cold, Butler alone cannot shoulder the scoring load to overcome many of the NBA’s well-built rosters.
Heat 2023 NBA Draft selections
No. 18: Jaime Jaquez Jr., G/F, UCLA
This is a very intriguing pick by the Heat, who just advanced to the NBA Finals on the back of Jimmy Butler and Co. Miami gets a steal this late in the first round, one of the top players in the country in Jaquez. The wing can shoot the 3 and is an elite passer who was held back by the system head coach Mick Cronin installed at UCLA. The NBA could really bring out the best for Jaquez, who averaged almost 18 points per game as a senior this past season. Jaquez should fit right in as a player who helped lead his team to the Final Four and three Sweet 16 appearances.
Fantasy basketball outlook
There’s a path to minutes for Jaquez if he can make a good impression and work hard. The Heat would need to make a few moves for Jaquez to get into the rotation right away, however. Plus, Caleb Martin’s emergence in the playoffs could mean he soaks up most of the minutes at small forward. Jaquez is versatile and can handle the ball a little bit, so he could become a Swiss Army knife of sorts for Erik Spoelstra. He may not be a draft-worthy player in fantasy basketball but isn’t a bad stash or late-round play in a dynasty league.