Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat
Jaime Jaquez Jr. finished among the top 3 rookies this season in total points, steals and minutes played Via @MiamiHEAT on X/Twitter

SEATTLE - Making your debut in the best basketball league in the world is no easy task. Shinning during your rookie season is even more difficult, but Mexican-American Jaime Jáquez Jr.'s fantastic year with the Miami Heat is a good example of making it possible.

After spending four years with the UCLA Bruins, Jáquez was drafted by the Heat in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft and the Mexican-American repaid the trust shown by the Heat front office with one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history.

Jáquez Jr. averaged almost 12 points per game and quickly became one of the most important players in Erik Spoelstra's scheme. He earned two Rookie of the Month awards in November and December of 2023 and set multiple records for players of Mexican descent in the NBA.

Jáquez is now the holder for most points in a regular season and playoff game by a player of Mexican descent and he just added another accolade to his already successful season after earning a spot in this year's All-Rookie first team.

Jáquez might be the first Mexican-American to do so, but not the first Latino. Three Dominicans and one Argentine have done it in the past.

In 2006, Dominican-American Charlie Villanueva earned a spot in the league's rookie team thanks to averages of 13 PPG and 6.1 RPG. Villanueva was one of the best players of his class despite the Toronto Raptors' losing record. He finished the 2005-06 season ranking second among rookies in points and rebounds, and third in minutes and blocked shots. He also tallied 12 double-doubles and set the Raptors' rookie records for points (48) and rebounds (18) in a game.

Charlie Villanueva's career-high 48 points as a rookie in 2006

The next Latino to earn a spot among all the best rookies of the year was Al Horford in 2008. After winning back-to-back national championships with the Florida Gators, Horford was selected with the third overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Atlanta Hawks.

Horford averaged almost a double-double in his rookie season (10.1 PPG, 9.7 RPG) and was the only player to be selected to the NBA All-Rookie first team unanimously. He finished second for the Rookie of the Year award, ultimately losing to Kevin Durant.

That same year, the Argentine Luis Scola earned a place in the All-Rookie team alongside Horford and Durant after playing in all 82 games that season. He averaged 10 PPG and scored 15 or more points in 22 of his 82 appearances in the regular season.

Before Jáquez, the last Latino to earn a spot in the All-Rookie team was Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns. The Dominican-American held the record for most points per game by a rookie in franchise history (18.3) until Anthony Edwards broke his record in 2021.

'KAT' won all six Rookie of the Month awards in the Western conference that season and became just the fifth unanimous NBA Rookie of the Year.

Despite having a solid collegiate career with UCLA, Jáquez wasn't expected to break through the way he did for Miami this year. He played the third-most minutes by a rookie this season and ranked among the top 10 in a lot of important categories such as total points (5th, 889), steals (3rd, 77), total rebounds (10th, 285) and assists (8th, 195).

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