Did the Boston Celtics give up on 24-year-old ex-lottery pick too soon?

The Boston Celtics gave up on a wing who has excelled on his new team -- begging the question if the Cs gave up on him too soon Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics gave up on a wing who has excelled on his new team -- begging the question if the Cs gave up on him too soon Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

In the first two contests of the campaign, the Boston Celtics bench has combined to score 20 points. Though both games have concluded in triumphs, bench scoring has to be a cause for concern going forward. One of Boston’s former wings is demonstrating in the early stages of the season that he could have been a reliable piece in that area.

In 30 minutes off the Indiana Pacers’ bench on Saturday, former Celtic Aaron Nesmith netted 26 points while snatching nine rebounds. There was a reason the ball club from Naptown recently extended the former Vandy man. From the second he took off his warm-up to enter the contest against Cleveland, Nesmith was ready to go. After getting subbed into the game with under 6:30 left in the first quarter, the 24-year-old scored seven points and showed off his hustle with an offensive rebound. The motor he has helped shift the momentum back into the Pacers’ favor in the first quarter and in the beginning of the second.

No. 23 was everywhere. Reverse lay-up? Easy buckets. Catch and shoot threes? Bang-bang. An acrobatic dunk? Effortless. Those were just a few things Nesmith took out of his bag on the road in Ohio. His performance should have made all Celts fans ponder: did Stevens let go of Nesmith, who recently re-upped to remain in Indiana long-term, a little too soon?

When Stevens dealt a first-round pick, and five players including Aaron Nesmith to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Malcolm Brogdon, nobody thought Boston was losing out on anything. Over a year removed from the trade, it is clear that the Celts may be missing out on a quality 3-and-D role player with loads of explosiveness.

There is no question that Sam Hauser, the so-called “replacement” for Nesmith will turn things around. What is indisputable is the athleticism and ceiling of No. 23 in yellow and blue. The former Virginia man cannot match that. With a player like Tyrese Haliburton pulling the strings, Nesmith knows he has to be ready. He is showing that shooting is just one of the tools in his arsenal. The upper body strength that he possesses allows him to finish around the basket at a multitude of angles, something he did numerous times on Saturday.

It’s early, of course, but that extension looks pretty good right now. Rick Carlisle trusts No. 23, even in crunch time. Imagine having someone to shave an extra 5-7 minutes off Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum’s time on the floor. That’s what one of Boston’s trade pieces from last summer would do.

Former Boston Celtics wing Aaron Nesmith showing immense growth in Indiana, providing quality two-way depth

Yes, Brogdon was used to help bring Jrue Holiday to the Boston Celtics, but why couldn’t that exchange be done without shipping over a young wing with plenty of untapped potential? Why not send someone like JD Davison over? Sure, that may not have been enough, but there had to be some way for Stevens to retain Nesmith.

This is not the first time the Boston Celtics have abandoned a player during their development process. Max Strus is the most prominent example. Some are quality decisions like sending away Romeo Langford, but others have to be questioned. His future is no doubt not going to be in green and white, but if this continues, the regret may begin to creep in. It’s that “what-if” that’d be on the minds of many.

This is still a question that is yet to be fully answered. From what the NBA world has seen, Nesmith is a straight-up hooper. He just needed time to adapt, and a role where he felt valued. The South Carolina native is not a piece that is going to make or break a championship team, but his services would be a luxury, especially right about now.

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