Sometimes a coach’s decision may seem peculiar, like sitting one of the team’s most talented shooters despite the Boston Celtics roster being short on three-point scoring.
Yet, that is precisely where we find ourselves with Aaron Nesmith, who has struggled for a consistent role within the offense all season. As such, the sophomore wing found himself playing a game in the G-League on December 9, and he made the most of his opportunity.
In 31 minutes of play, Nesmith dropped 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out five assists while shooting 9-of-16 from the field and 2-of-7 from deep. Of course, there were some turnovers with such a high usage rate, with the Vanderbilt product giving up possession five times.
However, this is the most basketball Nesmith has played since Summer League and was undoubtedly the first time he’s been a focal point of an offense since leaving the collegiate ranks. Nesmith’s position as a primary offensive weapon for the G-League outfit was clear from the opening tip, with the Maine Celtics featuring the 22-year-old in the game’s opening play, which resulted in an easy two points.
Nesmith Earned His Spot Last Season
Being on the outside looking in isn’t a new phenomenon for Nesmith, who struggled to crack the Celtics rotation during his rookie year. However, in the latter part of the Celtics 20-21 season, Nesmith became a valuable rotation player, primarily due to his hustle plays on defense and the spacing he provided on the offensive end.
It’s clear that despite Nesmith being a valuable member of the Celtics 2021 playoff rotation that ultimately lost to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, Ime Udoka expects more from his sharpshooter before affording him consistent playing time.
Nesmith finds himself behind Romeo Langford and Josh Richardson in the second-unit wing rotation. Both of those players that sit in front of the South Carolina native are polished defenders who seldom get caught out of position. With Udoka favoring defense over offense, Nesmith has his work cut out if he wishes to continue his development in Boston.
“It wasn’t just that he played poorly. It’s that other guys had played well. Grant really played well early, Romeo played well early, so we went with that line-up and our veterans. So he got squeezed there a little bit for minutes, but always had confidence in him. He’s a guy we know can light it up and bring us a spark off the bench, and being solid on defense was an added bonus there,” Udoka said of Nesmith following his performance on November 11 against the Miami Heat.
Unfortunately, if Nesmith wants to keep developing, he can’t rely on the players in front of him being injured or missing games due to health and safety protocols, which makes a prolonged stint in Maine a good idea for both him and the Celtics.
Bruno Fernando & Sam Hauser Also Played for Maine
Nesmith wasn’t the only member of the Celtics roster to participate in the game for Maine. Bruno Fernando, who is also struggling for game time, and Sam Hauser, the Celtics’ recent two-way player, also featured.
Fernando had himself a night, with his presence felt on both sides of the floor. The third-year big finished the game with 15 points, nine boards, and seven assists while going six-for-8 from the field. Fernando also showed himself to be a talented screener and roll man as he continually torched the Herd’s defense.
However, things didn’t go so swimmingly for Hauser. Hauser, a shooting specialist out of Virginia, failed to live up to his sharpshooting reputation in this game, hitting just two of his nine three-point attempts and going four-for-twelve overall. The rookie did manage to pull down six boards and dish out four dimes, though, so it wasn’t a terrible night’s work for him.
The Celtics are due to face the Indiana Pacers on December 10. While Nesmith, Fernando, and Hauser don’t project to be included in that game’s rotations, it’s nice to know the Celtics are taking their development seriously.
Hopefully, we can see more of Nesmith in Maine while improving his defense and confidence before fighting his way back into Udoka’s plans later in the season.