Age: 20 (Turns 21 in October 2020)
Aaron Nesmith recently suffered a stress fracture in his foot and is expected to be out for the rest of this college season.
Aaron Nesmith has the size to be an NBA small forward with his broad shoulders and 6’10 wingspan. His biggest strength is his jump shot. He has the best balance I’ve seen among all prospects this year. No matter how he gets to his shot, he maintains that consistency in his form. He also has great rotation on his jump shot as well. He also only needs a little separation to get his shot off. One area where he can improve on with his jump shot is extending his range. He didn’t shoot deeper 3s often, but when he did, it was noticeably flatter. The thing to notice though was that his mechanics didn’t change and will eventually have the strength to make that a tool in his arsenal. Nesmith understands how to play within the rhythm of an offense and doesn’t over dribble. He doesn’t need the ball to make the defense pay serious attention to him. Nesmith also can finish at the rim when he gets there. He is comfortable with both hands dribbling or finishing. Defensively, he has the size necessary to handle bigger forwards. He also is very good at staying stone-faced after a call against him. Aaron Nesmith has been praised for having a high work ethic among his coaches and teammates and seems like one of those guys that keep their head down and work as he doesn’t have a very expressive personality. It’s evident his jump from his freshman to sophomore year was no fluke.
Nesmith is more of an offensive-minded player and that can be viewed as good, but I don’t expect him to be the focal point of an offense. You would like to see him in more of a complimentary 3 and D role, but it doesn’t seem like that would satisfy him. His body language isn’t always positive. His awareness and rotations defensively are inconsistent. He doesn’t communicate. Another area that strongly affects Nesmith on both ends of the floor is his lack of quickness. He doesn’t have the lateral quickness to defend guards, so he can strictly only guard forwards. Nesmith tries to make the correct rotations at times but is too slow to get there most of the time. Then offensively, it is very easy for a team to deny him the ball. First of all, Aaron Nesmith is not a natural mover without the ball. Secondly, any NBA wing is going to be faster so if teams wanted to, they could faceguard him and will never have to worry about him beating his opponent back-door still. This can also apply to his ability to beat his man off the dribble. He just doesn’t have that burst to blow by his man. Then, on the rare occasions he is past his man, he is a very willing passer, but needs to learn to jump stop. There are too many times where he is out of control and either turns it over or gets the ball to the player, but doesn’t put the ball in the shooting pocket so the defense will then have time to rotate on to the shooter. I don’t think he’s meant to be a leader. Now it’s possible he can become one but this season, he didn’t motivate teammates. He didn’t engage with them often. I believe in leading by example, but it’s also necessary to be able to communicate with them.
While Nesmith has a lot of weaknesses, a jump shot solves a lot of problems in the NBA. It will be necessary for him to land in a spot where he can be used properly and there are two scenarios that will work best.
- He goes to a team that plays at a slower pace. This will help him be able to defend his man while making the other team play to his strengths. Nesmith could be more of a focal point and run sets for him to get him his touches. Nesmith doesn’t change speeds coming off screens well, but he only needs a little bit of separation to get his shot off as evident by his 52.2% from 3. Also, Nesmith doesn’t run in transition, which is where most shooters in the NBA get a lot of their looks so that aspect is limited. On the flip side, he won’t be a liability as a transition defender if his team keeps it a half-court game.
- The other scenario that could work is if he does land on a team that likes to play at a faster pace, maybe he could play as a stretch 4. While he might not be huge, he would force that defender to stay tight on him, which would open up the paint. I think he would need to add a little more weight to make it work, but Nesmith was able to hold his own when he had to defend the post and rebound on the defensive glass.
So Nesmith’s injury is a stress fracture in his left foot, so he is expected to recover 100% and doesn’t have a scary injury history that would lure teams to not drafting him solely based on that alone. I don’t hear anything negative about this kid as a person. With that, and his ability to shoot, he should be picked somewhere in the 16-25 range come draft time.
Article Written by Bradley Patten
Measurements provided by the Vanderbilt Hustler (https://vanderbilthustler.com/29395/featured/contextualizing-aaron-nesmiths-non-conference-dominance/)
Injury diagnosis provided by Adam Spencer (https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/vanderbilt-football/report-vanderbilts-aaron-nesmith-to-miss-time-with-injury/)
All stats found by (https://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/aaron-nesmith-1.html)
Photo Credit to NBA Draft Junkies (https://www.nbadraftjunkies.com/aaron-nesmith)