Pat Riley praises Jaime Jaquez Jr., Nikola Jovic: ‘They’re two great pieces for us.’

Jaquez Jovic
(Marta Lavandier/AP Photo)

Miami Heat president Pat Riley gave his annual end-of-season press conference on Monday and made national headlines for his comments about the team’s availability and, specifically, Jimmy Butler’s availability.

Though within his 42-minute presser, he lauded two of Miami’s best young players: Nikola Jovic and Jaime Jaquez Jr.

“They’re two great pieces for us,” Riley said Monday during his end of season press conference. “We like our base. We like those two guys.”

Jovic, 20, was drafted No. 27 by the Heat in the 2022 NBA Draft while Jaquez, 23, was drafted No. 18 overall. Both players’ developments were two of the most encouraging takeaways from the Heat season, mired by injury and inconsistency.

Jovic’s role in the rotation to begin the season was inconsistent. Though he entered the starting lineup midseason and did not relinquish it, concluding the season averaging 7.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 19.5 minutes per game across 46 contests (38 starts).

He’s only played in 61 combined games through two seasons–with 46 starts–with drastic improvements as a catch-and-shoot shooter and a multi-positional defender.

“Last year, he went through the back issues,” Riley said on Jovic. “The Learning curve was off the charts. Still, we saw something this year when we put him in the game. I think you could see–from 70 to 80 percent of his game–this guy is going to have some talent.

“It’s all about repetitions and IQ–learning and learning and learning more. It’s a new way of conditioning for a 20-year-old, cardio more than anything else … He’s a great athlete. He’s got great instincts. He’s unselfish and he’s a good rebounder–a coast-to-coast guy.”

Jaquez, who finished fourth in the NBA’s Rookie of the Year voting, behind San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama, Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren and Charlotte’s Brandon Miller, flashed immediately.

He averaged 11.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists, shooting 48.9 percent from the floor, 32.2 percent from beyond the arc and 81.1 percent from the free-throw line. Over a 31-game stretch from Nov. 11 to Jan. 14, he posted 16.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game on 60.3 percent true shooting.

Even though Jaquez’s season was paused midway with a groin injury that forced him to miss seven games, Riley admired his determination to be on the court.

“If he not gotten hurt with the groin earlier in the season, he plays, he would’ve played 82 games,” he said. “He ended up playing 75 games and, believe me, he was hurting when he missed those games. He’s a proud young warrior that will play every night for you. He had hit a wall with the first groin injury, and then we went through other injuries, then his role changed a little bit … That doesn’t help a player.”

Riley’s biggest message Monday surrounded the team’s availability–or lack thereof. The Heat had a franchise-record 35 starting lineups, a crazy amount. The team missed the 10th-most games due to injury, with Jaquez playing a team-most 75 games.

Bam Adebayo was the only other to play at least 70, while just four other players–Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith and Duncan Robinson–cracked 60.

“Continuity and consistency is: Every night I know what I’m going to get,” Riley said. “So if we’re paying 1-9 to be those players, and then all the sudden you get a rookie at No. 18 that shows out, you say you’re pretty fortunate–like we were with Bam (Adebayo), Tyler (Herro), [Nikola Jovic] and with Jaime.”

Check out Riley’s full presser here.

Regardless of what happens with Miami’s two young guns this offseason, both had encouraging 2023-24 campaigns, despite oftentimes having inconsistent roles.

What do you think of Riley’s comments? Let us know in the comments!


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If Riles keep these two, for Heat’s sake we all hope they step to another level next season. JJJ improve on threes and shot selections. Jovic footwork, offense, playmaking and defense. A lot to ask but even a bit of development would be big. Next season is a big question mark, might even be a big blank empty hole and start from (almost) scratch.


I’d trade any of them for immediate help .
Trey Murphy or Herb Jones.
Alex Caruso and Pat Williams .
Gabe Vincent and Rui Hachimura .

Why because we’re looking to win NOW !
No more being soft like they are with Herro let’s make it make sense now Jimmy will be 35 .
2014 spurs Tim was 38 he had young Kwahi and Tony .
‘98 Bulls MJ was 35 had a older Scottie and 37 yr old Dennis
2020 Lakers with 34 yr old LJ,27 yr old AD ,and 24 yr old Kuzma .

These are the only instances in the last 25 yrs where the 1A. Are near Jimmy’s age but when you look at the depth of those teams will Pat do anything like that seeing as he has been in neutral the last 4 years I have slim to no faith honestly.

Reality Czech

It’s very unlikely that both would be traded. Maybe one, but a good chance both stay. As for your trades:
A) maybe
B) that one is solid
C) no thanks. I’d need to get a better read on Vincent after his limited season due to the injury.


Then we’ll be right here again next spring . NOBODY is taking that crappy Herro contract I seen that idiotic move coming though if it is moved that GM will be fired in 12-18 months from then. Tobin and Leroy even said you’d have to give up something to off him but I expect it we need to bring in at least 5-7 new players .

Locks I believe are

Herb Jones just finished 4th in DPOY that’s not a maybe ,but him and Trey maybe untouchable.

Reality Czech

I agree. I also expect 5-7 new players. I’ll wait to see how the Butler drama works out. I don’t think Riley will consider giving him the extension anytime soon. Up to Butler to accept that or demand a trade. We will know a lot more after the draft and when free agency and trades begin. That’s just a span of 8 weeks. Should be very interesting.


y’all love making up fake trades for role players.


Yall love guzzling Herro


I know Herro is low hanging fruit in Heat Nation, but a friendly reminder. The season the Heat had the #1 seed in the East, Tyler won 6th man of the year.

The Heat may have felt like rewarding him and inserting him in to the starting lineup, probably to justify pay AND possibly generate trade value, but I think if he’s on the team this coming season he should go back to 6th man. Stagger him and Terry. Jmo. Carry on with your trades for Pat Williams, since we are so concerned with team health.


He’s making 3x less than Herro with more upside but go off 👍


Okay then we still need more matching salary AND his upside is limited right now due to serious health concerns. I think he’s had one healthy season and averaged 10-4. You can hate on Tyler all you want, but he’s a lot more valuable than that guy.

We need consistent scoring and we want to trade for non-offensive guys. This isn’t going off. I’m just trying to figure out why we would go that route unless you make another trade for the offensive guy and Pat Williams is an add-on that compliments what that other player would provide.


Pat Williams isn’t all that, sure he has potential, but most young players do. So far he’s been a bust, wasn’t he a 4 pick ? If you’re that high In the lottery, I’d expect more then just potential, which is an overused word nowadays.


So Spo factors nothing it must not exist in your thinking of any acquisition. They have to arrive here a finished product? I got you keep at it my guy .


Sure spo factors in, but at the end the of the day , potential don’t matter, if you’re that young, and already injury prone, but I got you too. Keep at it my G.


He is not a potential any more. Its clear, he is not a scorer, but he is a solid defender.

I would compare him with Jovic. And comparision will go in favour of Jovic really soon.


Yeah,because Tyler untouchable in your eyes and the eyes of the 29 other GMs right . That’s one example I’ve got PLENTY more but you people want a hall of famer for Herro NEWS FLASH just Nasty Work .

I said this 3 years ago trade him for a role players but “ no he’s to valuables lmao can’t make this stuff up . Now no one wants him .


Who said he was untouchable? My entire point has been he is more valuable to the Heat than these guys mentioned. Tyler was 6th MOY when the Heat won the 1st seed. He was the main reason the Heat even won a single game against Boston this year. He’s not perfect. He’s probably getting traded. But he is worth more than the guys mentioned.

Reality Czech

Riley knows basketball as much as anyone in the league. Jovic and Jaquez were solid pickups at their respective position in the draft. There is absolutely no need that either is ever an all star. Even if they are only regulars in the rotation, they were solid pickups (of course, each started a fair number of games this season).


Heat have been drafting at the middle of the draft for the past few years and have added Bam, Tyler, Jovic, and Jamie. Looking forward to see who they add next.


Don’t forget Precious. He’s about to get some serious burn with the Knicks.


Very interesting picture HHH decided to use up top. 😛

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