By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — For the second straight year, the Boston Celtics made use of the 14th overall pick in the NBA Draft. But unlike last year’s pick, this year’s selection feels like he could make an immediate impact on the team.
Romeo Langford was a developmental pick for Danny Ainge in 2019, and the young guard didn’t do much for the Celtics as a rookie. That likely won’t be the case for the 14th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft — small forward Aaron Nesmith — who knocked down a ton of shots in his two seasons at Vanderbilt.
It feels like Nesmith can step in and do the same off the Boston bench in 2020-21, and the 21-year-old agrees.
“[I’m an] absolute sniper. A guy who’s going to make life easier for the creators of the offense like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker,” Nesmith told Boston reporters after being drafted. “A guy that’s always going to be there, work hard and earn his stripes and do it on both sides of the floor.”
Sounds like he oozes confidence, which is what a team wants from a kid that is going to have to knock down shots. Nesmith said that he’s also going to put in a lot of work on the defensive side of the floor.
“I want to be great. I want to be the best player I can be, so that includes defense. I’m going to give my all and the best effort I have to that side of the floor and with my size, length and athleticism, be able to guard multiple positions,” he said.
Ainge said the Celtics were targeting Nesmith and were lucky that he was available at No. 14. The sharpshooter should be able to bring some bench scoring to the 2020-21 Boston Celtics, which will be welcomed with open arms by Brad Stevens and everyone on the roster. Here is everything you need to know about one of the newest members of the Celtics:
Nesmith stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs in at 216 pounds. He has a 6-foot-10 wingspan, which should help his cause on the defensive end of the floor.
The Early Years
Nesmith was the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 21 points and 4.5 rebounds as a senior at the Porter-Gaud School in Charleston.
The swingman only played in 14 games last season due to a foot injury (more on that in a bit), but he put up some monster numbers for the Commodores. Nesmith averaged 23 points per game off 51 percent shooting, hitting 52 percent of his shots from deep.
He Improved His Shooting A Lot Last Season
Those are some pretty gaudy shooting percentages, and they represented a big improvement from his freshman season. Over 32 games in 2018-19 (only 19 starts), Nesmith hit 39 percent overall — 47 percent on twos and just 33 percent from three-point land.
Then he went out and hit 60 of his 115 triples as a sophomore, raising his shooting percentage from downtown by nearly 20 points. That made him one of the most efficient shooters in all of college basketball.
He’s pretty solid at the line, too, hitting 82.5 percent in both of his college seasons. Just don’t expect him to take many freebies, as he attempted just 3.1 per game over his two years at Vandy.
He Can Hit From Anywhere Downtown
Any. Where. He wasn’t called “the best shooter in the draft” for nothing.
No. 14 Pick: Aaron Nesmith, Boston Celtics
Ranking among the most prolific off screen and spot up scorers in the country, he averaged 1.639 points per catch and shoot jump shot in the half court [100th percentile].
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) November 19, 2020
Nesmith is an absolute flamethrower that will help space the floor off the Boston bench.
“He could outshoot most of our guys right now,” Ainge said after the draft. “Well, Jayson Tatum might have something to say about that though.”
Nesmith may have only played 14 games as a sophomore, but he scored 20 or more points in nine of those contests. He scored a career-high 34 points in an overtime loss to Richmond, hitting 12 of his 18 shots and five of his six three-point attempts. He hit four straight threes in a 99 second span in the loss.
He dropped 34 points again six weeks later in a win over UNC Wilmington, hitting seven of his 10 three-point bids.
Ok, now we’ll get to the big concern. Nesmith only played in 14 games last season due to a broken foot that ended his year in January. He underwent surgery 10 months ago and said that he was fully healthy ahead of the draft, but the injury may have scared off some teams on Wednesday:
Several NBA teams with top 20 picks have concerns about the right foot of Vanderbilt sniper Aaron Nesmith. These teams are worried that Nesmith’s foot, which he injured in January, is slow to heal. Teams picking later in the 1st round are preparing in case Nesmith slides tonight.
— Ryan McDonough (@McDNBA) November 18, 2020
Foot injuries are always worrisome, but it doesn’t sound like the Celtics view it as a major concern.
Hard Worker — And Not Just On The Court
Brad Stevens called Nesmith a gym rat, but the kid doesn’t just put in the work on the floor. He’s pretty active off it too, thanks to his father.
Aaron Nesmith can drive a tractor, has built multiple chicken coops and dug multiple ponds, and his father made him cut trees for 12 hours a day, so he is perfect.
— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) November 19, 2020
He Is New To Twitter
Nesmith heard about this new thing called Twitter and decided to join the fun on Wednesday.
Thought today would be a good day to make a twitter 😎. Its Draft Day!🙌🏾
— aaron nesmith (@aaronnesmith24) November 18, 2020
Nesmith is not ready for Weird Celtics Twitter. Maybe he should stay off that new app of his for a while.
Same Tailor As Paul Pierce?
Nesmith wore a green checkered suit for the draft, which will obviously win over Celtics fans. That suit looked kind of familiar too.
— David Cohen (@David_A_Cohen) November 19, 2020
It’s not an exact match, but it’s pretty close. That can only mean that Nesmith’s number will one day hang in the TD Garden as well.
His Brother Will Be Close By
Nesmith’s older brother, Eddie, is set to attend medical school at Harvard University.