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Getting to know Aaron Nesmith

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Celtics fans don’t seem thrilled with Danny Ainge’s draft choices, but Aaron Nesmith could be the knock down shooter Boston needs.

NCAA Basketball: Southern Methodist at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been delving into the YouTube archives on Aaron Nesmith to see what kind of player the Celtics are getting. I specifically wanted to see the impression he made without any connection to an NBA team.

I highly recommend you make time to watch Nesmith’s film session with Mike Schmitz. If you don’t have 40 minutes to kill, here are some notes I took on what I found to be most interesting:

  • a keen sense of self awareness: realizing why plays broke down, understanding what mistakes he made, suggesting other plays that would have been better, elaborating that broken plays can have simple solutions, like taking one dribble and passing instead of driving into collapsed defenders.
  • 6’11” wingspan, something he recognizes as important in the NBA while trying to score over longer arms.
  • “Rule of thumb, don’t drive it where you got the ball from (18:28).” For a rule of thumb, I’ve never heard this before. Is that a thing people usually say?
  • Multiple mentions of defensive stance being “too open,” allowing attackers to get by him. Says coach Stackhouse was a “film guru” and they covered a lot of defensive mistakes. Nesmith feels he made more mistakes early in the season and fewer as the year went on.
  • Good closeouts, covers a lot of ground and contests the shooting hand.
  • “I’d rather block and dunk than dunk on somebody. It’s more validating.”
  • Sometimes gets cooked off-ball (think Jaylen Brown), sometimes makes great reads on help defense. Might be more mobile than he gets credit for.
  • Here’s an interesting comment from the video:

And there’s this:

After watching Nesmith’s film session, I did what any good researcher would do and looked for CelticsBlog’s Max Carlin clips on Twitter.

Nesmith clearly has a way of using his length and explosiveness to his advantage if he can find a lane to drive in. But as Max rightfully points out, sometimes his first move is painfully slow and ineffective. I think he’s got more “burst” than Max gives him credit for, which is a valuable skill on a team that’s absolutely bonkers at running the ball in transition.

Either way, Nesmith’s reputation coming into the league is that of a shooting specialist, something that’s sorely needed on the bench. While most of their current depth is hardly old enough to drink, they have time to develop young talent into the second or third year of Tatum’s extension, at which point they should be pushing harder than ever to reach The NBA Finals.

Nesmith’s skill as a shooter is different that the current floor spacers on the team. While Jaylen Brown thrives as a catch-and-shooter and Tatum masters the step back, Nesmith can catch the ball just after running off a screen and immediately get a shot off. Those of you who wanted a JJ Redick or (sigh) Jamal Crawford should look forward to the variety of ways he can score on the perimeter.

And, hey, Gordon Hayward just left the team. What can we do to replace him? They’ve already played a lot of the last three seasons without him as it is, and we know the team is steady (and getting better) whether or not he played. Getting nothing in return (most likely) means a lot of minutes open up on a very young roster. If you couldn’t tell, I’m big on letting the young guys play and developing as much talent as possible.

I’m not losing sleep over the Hayward situation so long as the Tatum/Brown/Smart trio stays intact. The best thing we can do to optimize them is to add a little depth at center, and role players who can at least tread water in bench-heavy lineups. If Nesmith can play any minutes—any minutes at all—and hit a couple shots without botching defensive rotations as a rookie, then I’ll be happy. The greatest advantage to having great defenders at every position is you can generally afford to hide questionable perimeter defenders.

Above anything else, I trust Nesmith because he’s smart. I’m admittedly not an expert on X’s and O’s, so this is what I have to go with. I think there’s a lot more Ainge could have done with this draft, but the Nesmith pick isn’t something I would complain about. He’s intelligent, fits what the team needs, and can develop on the same timeline as some of the other young players.