“I know there were some people in that organization who wanted Jaime Jaquez to stay in California and be a Laker,” a Western Conference executive told Heavy Sports. “He was the perfect role player for what they needed, he is a tough kid, he is a grinder. You could watch him last year and just tell h was ready to chip in for a good NBA team. The Laker like to use their picks to take big swings and not the safe bet, and that is how they were looking at Jalen [Hood-Schifino]. But they needed guys who could play now. And look at what Jaquez is doing. They blew it, for sure.”
The Lakers opted to draft Hood-Schifino with the No. 17 overall pick. He has appeared in just seven games with the storied franchise so far during the 2023-24 regular season and is averaging 2.6 points, 0.9 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game while shooting 25.0 percent from the field.
The 20-year-old’s most recent appearance for Los Angeles came in the team’s 20-point loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on New Year’s Eve. He logged just five minutes of playing time and finished with two points and one steal.
Before taking the floor against the Pelicans, he saw seven minutes of action against the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 28.
Meanwhile, Jaquez has been one of the top rookies in the NBA this season. He has played in every one of the Heat’s 33 regular-season games thus far and is averaging 13.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from behind the 3-point line.
The 22-year-old arguably had his best game of the season in Miami’s home win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas. He scored a team-high 31 points while shooting 11-of-15 from the floor in 39 minutes of playing time. Jaquez also racked up 10 rebounds, one assist and two steals.
The Heat and Lakers haven’t been at the top of their games lately. Both teams are riding two-game losing streaks at the moment. The Lakers have lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Pelicans, while the Heat have lost to the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers.
Both the Lakers and Heat will hope to snap their losing streaks when they face each other at Crypto.com Arena on Wednesday night. Following their matchup versus the Heat, the Lakers will then host Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies — who own a mediocre 5-5 record over their last 10 games — on Jan. 5.