Boston Celtics need Aaron ‘Crash’ Nesmith to emerge

Boston Celtics forward Aaron Nesmith Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics forward Aaron Nesmith Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

When Aaron Nesmith was drafted in the first round by the Boston Celtics, his scouting report said he was one of the best shooters in the 2020 draft. That’s nice, but does he know how to play basketball?

A lights out spot up shooter is nice, but what else can Nesmith offer? Can he score within the arc? Does he understand when to cut? Can he create his own offense? What about defense? Can he be an asset on both ends of the court? In other words, can Nesmith do more than just stand behind the 3-point line?

Fast forward to February 2022, and few would had missed Nesmith if he was included in one of the trade deadline deals president of basketball operations Brad Stevens made to clear the roster. But Nesmith is still a Celtic, and with Josh Richardson now in San Antonio, Nesmith has an opportunity to earn playing time.

Against Philadelphia, Nesmith shot 6-of-9 (3-5 on threes) for 18 points. Four of those buckets (for 10 points) were in garbage time of a 48-point Celtics win, but it’s been a while since Nesmith had a good shooting night.

Any good offensive night is good for Nesmith’s confidence, but Nesmith can help the Boston Celtics not just as a shooter.

Even if Aaron Nesmith isn’t shooting the lights out for the Boston Celtics, when he plays like “Crash” Nesmith, he contributes to the team’s success

We learned very quickly that Nesmith isn’t the type to just stand in a corner. He was a gangly jolt of energy with the coordination of a baby giraffe. But he was on the floor diving after loose balls, or flying from out of nowhere to grab rebounds or block shots. Nesmith was playing balls to the wall with no concern for his personal safety.

Yeah, Nesmith’s shot wasn’t falling, but providing energetic play off the bench, even though it seemed somewhat out of control, was beneficial to the team. He could be the jolt the team needs when they’re playing sluggish. A shot of espresso if the team isn’t running on Dunkin.

After a cold start, Nesmith’s shot started falling. Over the last 41 games of his maiden season, Nesmith shot .471 from the field, .402 from deep. The scouting report was coming to life.

2020-21 showed promise, but 2021-22 looks like Nesmith crossed his fingers. He’s shooting .378 overall, just .236 beyond the arc. Offensively, Nesmith is a liability. But he can still effect the game positively by being the energetic “Crash” Nesmith.

More. Celtics aim to start strong after all star break. light

He can effect games without scoring a bucket if he decides to put the D before threes. It starts by harnessing his energy and becoming a fierce, under control defender. Do your homework and don’t fall for every crossover or pump fake. Keep crashing the glass and diving for loose balls. Stop turning the ball over so much. Some good will come out of these efforts.

And with the Boston Celtics making defense paramount, one would think that there would be a place for “Crash” Nesmith in the rotation. Stevens gave up Richardson for Derrick White, a high IQ poor shooting point guard. Nesmith has the potential to be disruptive on the defensive end. His defensive rating improved from 114 as a rookie to 108 so far in 2021-22. If he keeps this up, he could earn some of the minutes that were going to Richardson.

As for Nesmith’s shooting, don’t worry about the offense, kid. Scoring opportunities will come from the hard work.

Next. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown bleed Celtics green. dark

But think about this. Nesmith’s overall shooting numbers are way down, but Nesmith’s percentage on two point shots went up from .543 to .611. If this is from going to the rim and getting dirty cleaning the offensive glass, then keep it up. And if Nesmith keeps going to the rim, it will lead to more free throws, which is also up from .786 to .842.

Over time, it is possible the shooting touch that got Nesmith drafted in the first place comes back to him. Good things happen when one focuses on anything but shooting. And if it does, then that’s a bonus.

So take some lessons from Marcus Smart and White. Be a pest. Take some charges and force turnovers. Get underneath opponents’ skin and throw them off their game. That could earn Nesmith more playing time from coach Ime Udoka.

Stevens isn’t ready to give up on Nesmith. Neither should we. Not on “Crash” Nesmith.