NBA Rookie Meter 7 | Swiss Army Knife Jaime Jaquez Jr. Making His Mark With Miami Heat Down In South Beach

Now two months into the NBA season, here’s how the NBA rookies stack up after about 30 games. 

Jaime Jaquez Jr., Heat 

Jaquez Jr. has been a real find for the Heat who’ve been dealing with injuries to star Jimmy Butler and others. JJJ, the former four-year starter at UCLA has shown the maturity that team president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra crave. The Swiss Army knife small forward has done it in all phases of the game. 

Thrust into the starting lineup on Christmas Day, for the aforementioned Butler, Jaquez Jr. went for a career-high 31 points and ten rebounds on 11 of 15 shooting and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line in a 119-113 win. Teammate Tyler Herro raved about the rookie following the win.

“What really stands out as a rookie is he’s able to come in here and do all the intangibles,” Herro.

This season Jaquez is averaging 13.7 points. 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. 

Chet Holmgren, Thunder 

It was another great week for the “Unicorn,” who’s currently the leader to take home Rookie of the Year honors. With Holmgren and star wing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the catalysts the Thunder are 5-1 in their last six games, and 20-9 overall which is second in the West.

Holmgren poured in 22 points five rebounds and four blocks in a 129-120 win over the Knicks on Wednesday. In his last six games he’s averaging 20.7 points on nearly 60 percent shooting and 8-of-20 from three (40 %).

Holmgren has also provided OKC with the rim protection they sorely lacked last season. The former Gonzaga standout currently ranks fourth in the league with 2.7 blocks per game. Holmgren’s season averages of 17.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game rank second for all rookies.

Victor Wembanyama, Spurs

It was a solid week for the Frechman, and despite the Spurs having just four wins this season, he’s been a bright spot. Wemby continues to fill the stat sheet on both ends, as he’s the rookie leader in points (18.3), rebounds (10.6) and blocks (3.0) per game. 

This past week there was a lot of talk about Wemby’s teammates ignoring him often on the offensive end, and while it looks to be true, it hasn’t seemed to bother the 19-year-old star, who just goes out and gives maximum effort on both ends.

Dereck Lively II, Mavericks 

The twitchy former Duke standout has been a huge difference-maker for the new look Mavericks this season. The former No. 1-ranked high school recruit has shown an ability to protect the rim, run the floor and be the lob threat that players like Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving need with their ability to get into the paint. 

In a huge Christmas Day win over the Phoenix Suns, Lively went for 20 points and 10 rebounds, while going 8 of 9 from the field. Lively’s biggest effect is in the win-loss column, with the team 17-7 when he plays and 1-5 when he doesn’t.

Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic raved about Lively after the win over the Suns.

“He’s been playing like he has been in the league for 10 years already,” said the NBA’s early MVP Award leader.

Brandin Podziemski, Warriors 

The Warriors have drafted well as of late, and Podziemski looks like the latest find. The talented floor general who’s also capable of playing off the ball has been the perfect complement to stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. With Draymond Green out (suspension) and the team wanting to limit the minutes for Chris Paul during the regular season, having Podziemski has been a godsend. 

During Monday’s tough 120-114 Christmas Day loss to the Denver Nuggets, Podziemski made history, becoming the first rookie to have at least nine rebounds, six assists, five steals and three three-pointers in a game. 

He’s been a pleasant surprise and someone Steve Kerr and the Warriors vets already trust. 

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