The Celtics ended up staying pat with the No. 14 pick and selected small forward Aaron Nesmith from Vanderbilt in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Nesmith, who turned 21 last month, played two seasons of college basketball before declaring for the NBA. Nesmith’s sophomore season at Vanderbilt was cut short after he had surgery on his right foot.
Here are four things to know about the newest member of the Celtics:
Nesmith is a top 3-point shooter
The Celtics desperately need scoring off the bench, and it appears they’ve taken a step to address that problem. Nesmith scored 23 points per game in 14 games last season, which led the SEC until he suffered his foot injury. He shot 52.2 percent from 3-point range, making 4.2 per game, both of which led the nation.
Nesmith sees himself as a good fit for the Celtics.
“I think I could step right in and make life easier for those guys – Kemba [Walker], Jayson [Tatum], Jaylen [Brown], Marcus [Smart], et cetera, just giving those guys more space and more room to operate I think is going to really help elevate their game,” Nesmith said last week.
The Athletic’s NBA Draft expert Sam Vecenie projects Nesmith to be a “knockdown shooter from Day One” once he enters the league. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor says in his “NBA Draft Guide” that Nesmith has “unlimited range” as a shooter.
Nesmith chose Vanderbilt over Harvard
For the second straight year, the Celtics selected a player who almost went to Harvard.
Nesmith, like Grant Williams, chose a Tennessee school over Cambridge. Nesmith’s older brother, Eddie, attends Harvard.
“This is Vanderbilt. We are here to be the cream of the crop, the best in academics and the best in basketball,” Nesmith told the Tennessean of his college decision in 2018.
“I mean it. I am here to work hard and to practice good time management,” Nesmith later said. “My family is very academic oriented. My brother is a sophomore at Harvard. I want to excel in academics, and I want to do well in basketball. That’s why I am here — to do both.”
Nesmith also had offers from Florida and South Carolina.
Nesmith knows how to do some handiwork
Nesmith’s talents aren’t limited to the basketball court.
In a video for ESPN’s NBA Draft broadcast, Nesmith said he can drive a tractor, has built multiple chicken coops, and dug multiple ponds. He also said his father made him cut trees for 12 hours a day.
“My dad is like, a big handyman,” Nesmith said in the video. “And so, ever since I was able to pick up a hammer, he’s had me helping him out.”
“When I was in sixth grade, my dad would make me wake up at six in the morning and go cut down trees from 6 (a.m.) to 6 (p.m.),” Nesmith later said. “Which is not easy to do in Charleston, South Carolina where it’s 100 degrees every morning.”
Despite the heat, Nesmith learned from the work.
“I hated it, but it definitely taught me hard work at a very early age.”
Nesmith has been doing three workouts per day
Nesmith’s season was already over when the NCAA announced it was canceling the NCAA tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite the shutdown, Nesmith went right back to work.
Nesmith told The Ringer he returned to his family’s home in Charleston, waking up at 6:40 a.m. every morning to go straight to the weight room.
“I have to be in the best shape that I possibly can. I got to be ready to go,” Nesmith told The Ringer. “Going to a private school at a young age taught me time management real early. I learned that you got to make a schedule for your day, pretty much days in advance. I know what I’m doing tomorrow, today, pretty much just because I’m so time-oriented.”
Nesmith would also film his workouts to study them later, saying of the experience: “I’m even more prepared than I would have been if I went [into the NBA] four or five months ago.”