After riding the pine for much of the season, Boston Celtics rookie Aaron Nesmith is finally getting meaningful minutes. And though his totals have been less than eye-popping, his hustle and solid shooting are slowly but surely raising his profile around the league. Which could be just the point.
As the March 25 trade deadline peeks its bedeviling little head over the horizon, the Celtics, like pretty much every other team in the league, are in the process of evaluating which players they want to keep, which players they want to deal, and which players they don’t know what they want to do with.
While it’s not quite clear which category Nesmith falls into, there’s no denying the Celtics have been impressed with what they’ve seen of late from the 14th overall pick in the 2020 draft. And that could easily translate into interest from other teams.
“He’s obviously becoming more comfortable with the speed of the game on the offensive end,” said head coach Brad Stevens following Boston’s 112-99 victory over the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night.
Nesmith grabbed four rebounds and scored nine points on 2-of-4 shooting from behind the arc against Denver, and his athletic block on a Nuggets fast break in the first quarter helped set the tone for a Celtics team that has often struggled to get back on defense. The next night, versus Atlanta, Nesmith only scored two points but contributed six rebounds (three offensive), two assists and a block.
Trade Rumors Abound
Already stacked with a plethora of young guards and small forwards, and reportedly in the market for more size, the Celtics could try to deal Nesmith to a non-contender with the patience to see if his elite shooting and defensive prowess at Vanderbilt translates to the NBA.
Nesmith averaged 23 points on 51.2% shooting his sophomore year at Vandy, before a foot injury ended his season and ultimately his college career. His 1.4 steals were second on the team behind guard Saben Lee, now a Detroit Piston.
Rumors in late January mentioned a possible deal involving Nesmith for Cavs veteran redwood Andre Drummond. And more recently, a report from the Orlando Magic Daily’s Dan Bennett named Nesmith as a potential chip in acquiring Orlando’s 7-foot center and 3-point-shooting machine Nikola Vucevic.
Eager to Make Winning Contributions
Whatever the Celtics’ intentions are with Nesmith, it’s clear the former Gatorade South Carolina Player of the Year who led his high school squad to three state championships while carrying a 3.45 GPA, is eager to capitalize on his increased playing time and show he can contribute at the pro level.
“It feels good to be able to go out there and play and participate towards winning games and trying to make winning plays,” Nesmith said after the Denver game. “Just trying to make the most of the opportunities that I’m given.”
And just in case potential suitors have doubts surrounding Nesmith’s willingness to come off the bench, the 21-year-old seems to have that covered:
“I’m just trying to do whatever the team needs me to do. Coming off the bench, for the starters, for the rest of the team, I’m just trying to be an energy boost and an energy guy, a guy that helps other guys play harder, a guy that helps us towards winning,” said Nesmith.