Erik Spoelstra on Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr.: ‘He is a competitor’

Jaime Jaquez Jr. has had a productive start to the season with the Miami Heat, and the 18th pick earned some praise from coach Erik Spoelstra after his latest effort on Friday.

Jaquez produced a season-high nine points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal in a 121-114 win over the Washington Wizards. He went 4-of-5 from the field in 21 minutes off the bench as the Heat snapped a four-game losing streak.

The 22-year-old put pressure on the rim throughout his time on the court and had a couple of strong finishes through contact. He also used his athleticism to get past his defender and attack the paint.

“Having to attack and be aggressive and assertive, that is him by his nature,” Spoelstra said of Jaquez. “All of those plays in between that you can’t really script. He has a knack for those kinds of plays, and you saw a little bit of that tonight.”

The Heat have enjoyed the production Jaquez has brought so far this season. He was one of the top players in the country at UCLA and one of the most experienced rookies entering the NBA this year after playing four years in college.

He emerged as a versatile player with the Bruins and could defend multiple positions with his ability and toughness. That has also stood out to Spoelstra and the Heat.

Defensively, he is a competitor. He is learning the league and tendencies. Learning our system — we can figure all of that out — but the competitive spirit and the nature of his physicality — he can guard on the perimeter. He can handle himself in the paint. He isn’t afraid of contact. That fits into our system, as well.

The Heat have used Jaquez in various ways to start the season and still look to be figuring out how to best utilize him. He has shown that he can perform in any role, and that should prove extremely valuable for the team as the season progresses.

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire