Monday, January 17, 2022

Brad Stevens still believes in Celtics prospects: ‘He was in our top 7’

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Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics’ president of basketball operations, will review his options ahead of next month’s NBA trading deadline. While the anticipation rises, there is, among other things, a Celtics prospect who could be on the road until February 10th.

Celtics’ Aaron Nesmith, whom Boston picked at #1. 14 in the 2020 NBA Draft, has been touted as one of the better shooters in his draft class and has only played 75 games in his first two seasons in the NBA. Plagued by setback after setback, including a foot injury at Vanderbilt, back spams during his rookie campaign and COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Nesmith has struggled to find a foothold in Boston.

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However, none of that has hurt the confidence of his first NBA head coach Stevens, who came on Thursday for his weekly interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich morning show. Brad’s only season with Nesmith was enough basketball operations for the Celtics president to believe, and he doesn’t think Aaron’s little sample size game so far is an accurate representation of the trajectory of his first-round pick.

“He’ll be fine,” Stevens told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s morning show Toucher & Rich. “He’s a good player. Work ethic, athleticism, versatility, team spirit and the bottom line: at the beginning of the last two seasons with a new coaching staff and a new system in a new environment; he struggled at the beginning of both.

“And when he first started training – when I trained two years ago – right after the pandemic, when we started in December, I thought he was a few years away and four months later I thought he was in our top seven or eight guys.”

Nesmith’s work ethic and high energy are well documented. Brad spoke to him towards the end of the 2020-21 regular season and revealed that Nesmith was usually the first player in the gym before practice.

Celtics fans also got quite a dose of Aaron’s energy for his slapstick style of play, or what Nesmith calls – The Art of Falling – which often resulted in him hitting the deck or being thrown into the stands.

“It has an engine, it has a will,” added Stevens. “If anything, it was influenced by the fact that we have other older guys who played well. But he’s a guy we really believe in. He’s going to be good and I think he’s going to get more comfortable with the system, the style and everything else they’re playing this year. Again through the transition from last year with a new manager and then again this year – I think he will be fine. I’m a believer.”

Celtics veteran Josh Richardson, who is currently shooting at a 40% clip averaging 26.2 minutes per game, has emerged as one of Boston’s elite shooters. Nesmith, who averaged 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 37% from behind the 3-point arc in his rookie year, went backwards this season.

He averaged 3.0 points while shooting 23.4% of 3 in 29 games, which ended up being a point start for the. triggered Maine Celtics in the G league. Aaron lost 21 points on 9 of 16 attempts along with two three-pointers and grabbed nine rebounds to go with his five assists in 31 minutes.

Still, the Celtics head into the second half of the 2021-22 campaign, which is on its 22nd season, according to TeamRankings.com.

Otherwise, Nesmith might be on greener pastures.

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