Celtics’ Brad Stevens Unsure His Rookie Will See Playing Time

Getty Images Brad Stevens

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is doing his best to alleviate the pressure that’s riding on rookie Aaron Nesmith.

For the first time in four years, Stevens’ entering the regular season without an All-Star point guard at the helm. Kemba Walker’s injury is a significant blow to his starting unit; especially with you couple it with losing Gordon Hayward’s offensive production.

It’s what made drafting Nesmith a no-brainer for president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who was fortunate enough to land the class’ best shooter at No. 14. However, the uniqueness that comes with 2020 means an unusual offseason for the first-round pick.

Brad Stevens On Aaron Nesmith: ‘No Idea If He Will Be A Part Of The Rotation Or Not’

Nesmith was robbed of showcasing his outside touch in Summer League along with an extended training camp and preseason. With that being said, Stevens, who spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon, is unsure if Aaron will receive playing time.

“We’re four practices in; I have no idea if he will be a part of the rotation or not,” Brad Stevens said. “I really like what I’ve seen, so far, from his ability to learn from things day-to-day and apply them the next day. But that stuff will sort itself out.”

Stevens doesn’t have a whole lot of depth at the wing positions, chances are Nesmith will have to earn his minutes in the beginning but if Walker isn’t available by January, Brad may not have much of a choice. After All-Star Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, Stevens’ depth chart quickly thins out at the wing positions.

Semi Ojeleye, Javonte Green, and Grant Williams all offer much more upside than Nesmith on the defensive end of the floor, however, Stevens doesn’t have another proven scoring weapon to plug in substitute for Tatum or Brown on the opposite end. Aaron’s offensive skillset undoubtedly fills a void for Stevens’ second unit, it’s just a matter of harnessing his scoring to adapt to the NBA and his new teammates.

“It’s a lot,” Nesmith said, per Masslive.com. “Coming in really fast, quick turnaround, so I’m just trying to come in with a mindset of getting better every single day, getting one percent better than I was yesterday while trying to apply the schemes we are trying to run and things that we’re trying to incorporate on offense and defense.”

For Brad Stevens, It’s About Nesmith’s Defense: ‘I’m Not Worried About His Shot At All’

With Nesmith’s athletic build, the Celtics coaching staff is confident that Aaron can develop into a solid defender at the pro level. He admits playing defense at this stage is a lot to get used to.

When it comes to his offense, Nesmith checks off most of Stevens’ boxes – that is something the Celtics head coach is impressed by, but that alone won’t secure a spot in Brad’s rotation. Playing defense gets you minutes.

Stevens is doing the right thing in sending that message to his rookie before the start of preseason.

“I’m not worried about his shot at all,” Stevens said. “I think everything else is what needs to – (what) he just needs to learn as quickly as possible. He’s a good shooter, he’s a smart kid. I think he’ll pick things up very quickly.”

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