Tabbed as one of the best shooters in this past NBA Draft, Aaron Nesmith is just trying to carve out a role on the Boston Celtics and showcase his much talked about skill in the early portion of his rookie season.
But minutes have been scattered or nonexistent for the No. 14 overall pick out of Vanderbilt, who shot 51.2 percent from 3-point range in limited action in his sophomore season with the Commodores last winter. Nesmith has made it into seven games so far this season with most of those minutes coming in garbage time.
However on Monday versus the Chicago Bulls, Nesmith flashed exactly what he could offer to a team in desperate need of a pure shooter that can space the floor and open up driving lanes for its two stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Nesmith played a meaningful 19 minutes in the 119-103 win as he made 3-of-5 triples to provide a boost off the bench for the Celtics. It was the second straight game that Nesmith went 3-of-5 from downtown. In his previous five games prior to those two performances, Nesmith shot just a combined 3-for-16 from deep.
“It’s been a journey, it’s been tough at times for sure, but just trying to expedite my learning curve and make sure I’m always locked in and always making sure I take advantage of every opportunity,” said Nesmith, whose 26 of his 34 shots as a pro have come from beyond the arc. “Even in the games I don’t play, or I don’t play as much, just making sure I’m mentally locked in.”
While struggling to acclimate to the fast-paced NBA game, Nesmith looked the part of the knockdown shooter against the Bulls that he was regarded as coming out of college.
The 3-pointers Nesmith connected on weren’t of high difficulty, all coming off catch-and-shoot opportunities and requiring no dribbles. Of his treys, the most impressive of them all came late in the third quarter as he came off a Robert Williams III screen at the top of the key and buried a 26-foot straightaway triple over outstretched arm of Gary Temple.
Being able to replicate that more often will lead to more playing time for Nesmith, despite the depth the Celtics have at the wing positions. Nesmith would be helped by shoring up his suspect defense and continuing to display he can hit his shots on a more consistent basis.
And even though his playing time will ebb and flow for the immediate future, the rookie plans to keep his approach the same in hopes of becoming a bigger factor for the Celtics.
“Even in highly competitive games where I may not play as much or I may not get into the game, still always being ready and having that mindset, so that if my number does get called, I can come into the game and contribute and make plays to help us win the game,” Nesmith said.