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Celtics select Aaron Nesmith with the 14th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft

Celtics picking a shooter out of Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Aaron Nesmith joins a crowded field of talented wings in Boston. Even though Gordon Hayward’s future with the Celtics remains murky, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are the cornerstones of the franchise. However, last year’s #14 pick Romeo Langford will start the season on the shelf recovering from wrist surgery. Even with an abbreviated training camp this season, Nesmith’s shooting could earn him minutes early in the regular season.

Here’s what Coach Spins said about him.

Aaron Nesmith played only 14 games for the Vanderbilt Commodores this year before suffering a season-ending injury, but those 14 were amongst the best shooting performances we’ve seen from a collegiate sniper. Nesmith made 52.2 percent of his treys, hitting seven or more in four total games.

Now, Nesmith provides a fascinating paradox within the draft community. As a shooting specialist, is his performance an outlier on a small, half-season sample size, or is it such an overwhelmingly strong output that even a regression is better than what other shooters provide?


Simply put, Nesmith is in there to hit triples. He’s good on the move, he’s good spotting up, and he’s got a long enough frame to drill shots over late-arriving defenders.

At Vanderbilt, Nesmith played for former NBA hooper and G-League coach Jerry Stackhouse. Under Stack, Nesmith was utilized in many NBA-style shooting actions, thriving in each. The examples of success within NBA actions brings comfort to coaches that the learning curve for how to be impactful within a pro offense will be small.

The Celtics need a little more outside shooting, and that’s what Nesmith does best. An attraction to a 6’6” shooter checks one of the biggest boxes we have, and the gravity he provides goes hand-in-hand with slashing wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Improvement Areas

Nesmith isn’t a defensive liability, but he’s not a strong enough athlete or on-ball stopper to garner the ‘3-and-D’ label. Boston has plenty of wings who can handle the major assignments to protect Nesmith, so this may not be a massive problem in terms of fit.

Nesmith is a true 6’6”, but he’s stiffer on his feet and poor laterally. He doesn’t do himself many favors with the path he takes on defense, the poor changes of direction and how he gets up out of his stance so often. There isn’t a lot of athletic upside to his profile.

Offensively, you know what type of role you’re going to get. He’s not a playmaker, isn’t adept at putting the ball on the floor and attacking closeouts and rarely makes contested layups.

The question is whether he’s good enough at his specialty role to still have positive value. A lot of that comes down to how much Ainge would buy his 14-game sample. I’m a tad skeptical on it, so I think taking Nesmith at 14th overall would be an unnecessary reach by the Celtics. Long-term, I struggle to see him moving into the Gordon Hayward role as third cog on the wing and ever playing 28 minutes a night on a championship-level team.