Aaron Nesmith Left Lasting Impression with Celtics Before Finding a Home with Pacers

Jan 8, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) holds the ball while getting guarded by Indiana Pacers wing Aaron Nesmith.
Jan 8, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) holds the ball while getting guarded by Indiana Pacers wing Aaron Nesmith. / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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In his two seasons with the Celtics, Aaron Nesmith averaged 4.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per contest across 98 games. He fought to stay on the floor with his play on defense, bringing an infusion of energy off the bench and throwing his body around with a reckless abandon that earned him the nickname "Crash."

However, the former 14th-overall pick wasn't meant for a role where he has to thrive offensively despite limited minutes, touches, and shots. The trade bringing Malcolm Brogdon to Boston allowed Nesmith to prove himself and play through mistakes.

In Indiana, he's found a home. He signed a three-year, $33 million extension before the current campaign got underway, then produced 12.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, setting a new career-high in the former and tying his personal best in the latter. He also drilled 41.9% of the 4.6 threes he hoisted and swiped nearly a steal per game at the other end of the floor.

The former Vanderbilt star has started all 13 of the Pacers' playoff games entering the conference finals, and he emerged as someone his team trusted to guard Jalen Brunson, performing admirably when matched up against the heart of the Knicks' offense.

"Super proud of Aaron for his growth," said Jaylen Brown as he prepares to enter a seven-game series against his former teammate. "Seems like he found himself in the league. I remember we used to work out together, me, him, and Joe (Mazzulla), over here on one of the side baskets, so I'm proud of his growth and what he's been able to do."

Echoing that sentiment, Derrick White voiced, "I could see that he worked hard, he played hard, and just looking for his opportunity, his chance, and he's gotten it here in Indiana, and I'm happy for him, and he just goes out there and competes his tail off for however (many) minutes he's out there, and it's gonna be a challenge to match that energy."

In eight games vs. the Celtics, Nesmith is averaging 12.6 points and 2.3 assists; those are his highest career outputs against any opponent. He's also grabbing 4.1 rebounds per contest.

The chance to deny the team that won more games than any other in the regular season and went 8-2 on a relatively breezy road to the conference finals from playing for the Larry O'Brien Trophy is added fuel as he tries to help the Pacers pull off an upset that vaults a franchise often out of the spotlight onto the NBA's brightest stage with a chance to compete for a championship.

Further Reading

Trivializing Celtics' Success in Tatum-Brown Era a Take Not Measured Properly: 'Doing

Past Hardships Brought Out Best in Al Horford in Career Night: 'You Saw His Gift'

Simple Changes Spark Stifling Second Half Defense in Celtics' Game 4 Win vs. Cavs

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Still Shaking Off Criticism While Growing as Leaders

Jrue Holiday Delivers 'Masterclass' in Game 3 Win vs. Cavs

Jayson Tatum Breaks Out of Scoring Slump That Never Defined Him: 'Underappreciated'

Derrick White Discusses Joining Elite Company in Game 1 Win vs. Cavaliers

Kristaps Porzingis Discusses Target Date to Rejoin Celtics' Playoff Run: 'Doing Everything I Can'

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Bobby Krivitsky


Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.