After the Heat fell to the Indiana Pacers, 144-129 on December 2, Butler had some things to say about the team’s fourth loss over its last five games. When asked to describe the Heat’s sluggish start, just one word came to Butler’s mind: mediocre.
“We stand right where we don’t want to be, which is very mediocre — not good, not bad, not great, not any of those things, just mediocre,” Butler said after the loss, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “When you talk about our offense, it’s been mediocre. You talk about our defense, it’s been mediocre. So that’s the word that I would use.”
Jimmy Butler Has a Point About Heat’s ‘Mediocrity’
Miami is currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 11-9 overall mark.
The Heat is averaging 113.1 points per game, which is ranked 17th out of 30 teams. Defensively, Miami is allowing 112.0 points per contest. That’s ranked 12th. It’s not bad, but it’s a significant drop off from the 109.8 points a game the Heat allowed last season, which was ranked second in the NBA.
Miami is ranked 14th in the league in field goal percentage (47.3%), third in 3-point percentage (38.6%) and 27th in rebounds per game (40.7). Butler isn’t wrong — the word ‘mediocre’ is the perfect descriptor for what we’ve seen so far from the Heat.
“I think we’ve done a solid job overall,” Heat guard Josh Richardson said about the team’s performance over its first 20 games, per the Herald. “I mean, you’re going to have a few games like this throughout the year, so it’s no time to overreact. But it’s definitely we’re going to have to sit down, look at the film and figure some stuff out.”
Jaime Jaquez Jr. Has Been Bright Spot for Heat Early On
The 18th overall pick for Miami in the 2023 draft, former UCLA standout Jaime Jaquez Jr. has been a pleasant surprise for the team to start the season. The 6-foot-6 forward is playing 26.7 minutes per game, and he’s averaging 12.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals.
It’s early, but Jaquez is establishing himself as one of the top rookies in the league. He has transitioned from the collegiate game to the pro game rather seamlessly. He also says he was hoping to get drafted by Miami, citing head coach Erik Spoelstra and team President Pat Riley as two primary reasons.
“I think when it comes to basketball, just being under Pat Riley and coach Spo, I don’t think you could ask for two better guys when it comes to basketball to play under and learn from. So that was a big reason,” Jaquez said, per The Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang.
“I also didn’t want to stay in L.A. for all my life,” Jaquez added. “I wanted to get out and be somewhere new, kind of challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. So coming to Miami was a spot that I always really loved. I had been here before a couple times and I just loved the city, loved everything about it. So I just really wanted to come here.”
While multiple aspects of Miami’s performance so far have been mediocre, the play of Jaquez isn’t one of them.