After being selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Boston Celtics wing, Aaron Nesmith, averaged 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game during his rookie season. These include shooting splits of 43.8 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc.
Coming out of college he was deemed the best shooter in the draft, and rightfully so. In his final season at Vanderbilt, he averaged 23 points per game on a staggering 52 percent shooting from deep with over eight attempts per contest.
Nesmith has a skillset that is very ideal for today’s NBA, as a 3-and-D wing, or a player that is an exceptional shooter and defender.
There was not a ton of flashes of shot creation or playmaking from the rookie, however, the defensive intensity and long-range shooting were certainly there.
Boston Celtics forward Aaron Nesmith could be a significant contributor this season…but should he start?
Obviously there are a multitude of starting lineups the Boston Celtics could roll out this season, however one they should seriously consider involves putting Aaron Nesmith with the big names.
It truly depends on his development in terms of consistency, because last year was anything but consistent.
Throughout the first 58 games of the season he had 26 DNPs, and in the 32 games he did play, only logged an average of 12.7 minutes per game. In this span he averaged just 3.2 points on 36.5 percent shooting from the field, 31.9 percent shooting from three, and 68.8 percent shooting from the line.
Based off those numbers, it shows how he was almost completely ineffective.
What the numbers don’t show was his intensity in said minutes, as he was always giving it 110%.
His defensive IQ wasn’t off the charts, but his on-ball defense was that of a pest, making life hard for opponents.
However, near the end of the season, he really started to come into his own.
In those remaining 14 games, he exponentially improved his production, averaging 8.2 points per game on well over 50/40/90 shooting splits. This includes 46 percent shooting from deep on nearly three attempts per game.
Before the game against the Hornets on April 28th, he had not scored double digits in over two months, but he proceeded to score 15 or more in three straight games.
He found his groove at the best possible time, and proved he was the shooter the Boston Celtics hoped he would be.
If he can carry just 75 percent of that sort of production into the 2021 season, he should be considered for a starting spot.
He is the type of player defenses can’t leave alone on the perimeter, so he adds nice spacing to the starting lineup to allow Tatum and Brown to get easier shots.
However it works in the same way vice versa, in the sense that Tatum and Brown’s scoring gravity will help Nesmith get the easiest possible looks beyond the arc.
Being a good, high-energy defender, along with having exceptional shooting abilities would make him a good starter on almost any team. Obviously there are players the Celtics can start that are better than Nesmith, but that doesn’t mean the fit is better.
The now second-year pro is not ball dominant at all compared to a Dennis Schroder or Josh Richardson who need the rock in order to be effective.
Starting Nesmith allows BOTH of those players to come off the bench, deepening the second unit purely by fit with the starters.
The starting lineup could be Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Nesmith, Jayson Tatum, and Robert Williams, with Schroder, Pritchard, Richardson, Hernangomez and Horford coming off the bench.
That 10-man rotation would be extremely lethal on both sides of the ball, with plenty of shooting, scoring, shot-creating, playmaking, and defense to go around.
The Boston Celtics really can’t go wrong with the starters with all this newly acquired talent, but hopefully Aaron Nesmith gets some serious contemplation from the coaching staff to be a starter.