What are Realistic Expectations for Celtics’ Forward Aaron Nesmith?

21-year-old Aaron Nesmith was selected with the 14th pick in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft by the Celtics. After an up and down rookie season, Nesmith finished with 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from behind the three-point line.

Heading into Nesmith’s ‘first real’ NBA offseason, he looked to work on his craft and the areas of his game that required improvement, and he proved that he did in this year’s Summer League. Through the Celtics’ five games, Nesmith averaged a team-high 17.4 points on 50 percent shooting and 39 percent from behind the three-point line and averaged 6.2 rebounds. In his best performance of his career thus far, in just his second game of Summer League, Nesmith put up 33 points on 7/9 three-point shooting in a win against the Denver Nuggets.

With the NBA season approaching, KJ Doyle and Rob Greene at GuyBostonSports take a dive into one of the biggest questions for the Celtics entering the 2021-22 season. What’s in store in Year 2 for Aaron Nesmith?

KJ Doyle:I think there’s a big push to elevate Nesmith into a larger role, but he needs to earn it first. I’ve already seen people asking if he should start over Josh Richardson. He’s clearly not better than Richardson at this point. However, he could grow into that, but he still has a long way to go. Payton Pritchard played far better than him at Summer League, so I would actually play him more at shooting guard and play smaller lineups in order to get him on the floor over Nesmith.”

Teammate Payton Pritchard averaged 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 8.5 assists on 47.8% shooting in four games at Summer League. On top of his great Summer League performances, Pritchard left for Vegas due to a prior commitment to participating in the summer Pro-Am League; he dropped 92-points.

Rob Greene: “Yeah I see people bringing up ideas of him starting as well which isn’t bad, but now that we have an actual roster and depth 1-10 we have the guard help. I’m all on board with a Smart, the Jays, Horford and Williams lineup, unless you start Richardson over Williams, but this team has a ton of ball handlers and playmakers now, as well. I’d like a second unit of Schröder, Pritchard, Nesmith, Richardson and Kanter and then you can mix in Parker and Grant.”

Greene also adds, “He’ll definitely see an increased role and contribute more like Payton, but it’s hard to label him as something more than a role guy yet”

With a more deep roster heading into this season, the Celtics have a ton of role players that will need to battle for minutes. Nesmith has shown that he can provide the team with spacing with his three-point shooting, allowing the Jays to attack the basket and be playmakers. But it is his playmaking and finishing ability that is holding him back from taking that leap heading into his second year.

Taking a look at Nesmith and his game, a comparison made by the CelticsFeed, via. Instagram, caught many fans attention:

When I look at Nesmith, the most similar player I see is Duncan Robinson. Both are designated shooters who are used to flying around the court to get a look. With that being said, I thought it would be decent to do a little comparison. Obviously Duncan Robinson has figured out his game for the Heat, and it only took him 1 year to do so. My hope is that Nesmith follows a very similar path, especially since he did have a lot of good moments that showcased his potential during the season. With all due respect to the undrafted rookie in 2018 who worked tremendously to gain his spot, I think Nesmith has the tools and ability to be a better version of Duncan Robinson quite soon, depending on how fast he develops and adjusts in the NBA landscape.

If given the right amount of minutes and used correctly when on the floor, can Nesmith become a better defensive version of Duncan Robinson?

The expectations are high for Aaron Nesmith. Nesmith can do great things in this league; it is all about utilization. With the Celtics bringing in new Head Coach Ime Udoka and his fondness for ball movement, Nesmith is bound for success in this new system. He is a great shooter, and it is all about the looks that he can get.

Photo: (Steven Ryan – Getty Images)

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