Although the Basketball world has been put on pause lately, we simply can't help but want to talk about basketball in any possible means necessary. While we like to believe that it's always draft season, things are about to heat up around here especially. With that being said, let's take a look at an intriguing prospect who is starting to generate some buzz in draft circles.
Every year, I will find myself monitoring the "buzz" around the NBA Draft circles when it comes to specific prospects. It's always interesting to see what everyone is hearing, where players are projected to be ranked before the season takes off, etc. That way you can compare your initial rankings and really focus on whether or not you believe in what your own eye is seeing compared to others.
This year, Vanderbilt sophomore small forward Aaron Nesmith was a player that immediately grabbed my attention. Nesmith has been the go-to scoring option for Head Coach Jerry Stackhouse and the Vanderbilt Commodores and you can tell they look to feed him when you turn on the tape.
BY THE NUMBERS
Nesmith checks the boxes when it comes to overall build for a wing, and while some might see him as on the smaller size when it comes to the prototypical 3 in the modern NBA, it's important to note that Nesmith also has a reported 6'10" wingspan as well. Nesmith's season was cut short, unfortunately, as an injury forced him to miss the remainder of the season. But, we still have enough film to do a good breakdown on what makes Nesmith such an intriguing prospect for the upcoming Draft.
ON THE MOVE
When you dive into the film for Aaron Nesmith, you're going to see PLENTY of catch and shoot opportunities. Vanderbilt loved to have designed sets in order to get the ball in Nesmith's hands and he's fantastic away from the ball as we mentioned before. Nesmith does a good job of setting up his defender here before he quickly shifts gears and explodes to the corner as his teammate sets a screen. He's got a good combination of balance and form to his shot and his release should only get quicker with more repetition.
CATCH AND SHOOT
All Nesmith needs is a little bit of space to operate and he's lethal from outside. Again notice the "set up" to get his defender drifting away from the ball as he sets up the potential screen by his teammate. Catches the shot in rhythm to go up balanced right away.
Beautiful isolation here as Nesmith shows us some potential in the midrange game. Nothing too fancy, but just shows you that Nesmith has some potential as a weapon in other aspects of the game.
OFF THE BOUNCE
When you're as much of a threat on the perimeter as Nesmith is, you need to make the defense respect other aspects of your game as well. The defense starts to creep up on him and he shows us his ability to get to the basket off of the dribble. Nice finish with the left through traffic.
Notice the score and situation here. Vanderbilt would go on to lose this game in OT, but they needed a bucket here in crunch time in the biggest way. Personally, I love to see when potential draft prospects want the ball in their hands as the game gets to a close. You're on the road here and down with less than a minute in a tough fought game. Can you deliver for your team? Nesmith stays active on offense and gets his window. Splash.
Again, Nesmith made himself plenty of money this year with his ability on the perimeter, but it's important to look at his ability as a scorer on multiple levels. Great job here of surveying the defense quickly and attacking aggressively. Look at the distance that the 6'6" wing covers with one strong dribble as he glides through the defense.
Plays like this are important to point out because it takes no talent. This is an effort play and Nesmith just simply wants it more. Also it shows you that Nesmith has some sneaky athleticism to his game, and that rumored wingspan of 6'10" doesn't hurt either.
ON THE MOVE PART II
A nice extended look at just how much work Nesmith would put in off of the ball to get open. Here we see Nesmith getting set up in a "gate" play. Aaron does a nice job of setting up his defender with the initial cut before planting and exploding up the floor. Nice catch and shoot and balance before he goes up for the three.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
I wanted to make sure that I got a Nesmith game going against some "elite" competition and Auburn continues to be one of the top teams in the country this year. Nesmith drew the attention of fellow draft prospect Isaac Okoro for a majority of this game, and while his stats don't wow you...I think it was one of his more impressive games considering the circumstances. I LOVE this play and NBA teams should have it circled on their scouting reports. Notice first that Nesmith sets a HARD backscreen on his teammate's defender, setting up what looks to be a breakdown in communication for a potential switch. Aaron then continues up and hits a catch and shoot deep ball.
Like we stated previously, Nesmith might be on the smaller side of a 3 at the NBA level at just 6'6" but if he measures out with a 6'10" wingspan as reported, plays like this will put some comfort in the eyes of NBA Front Offices. Great weakside help from Aaron here and he says no you are not welcomed here.
THE "PLAY THAT AGAIN"
Vanderbilt was getting into a bit of a rhythm here late in his one and they needed another big bucket to try and take this game on the road. So what did they do? Well, they called upon Nesmith to get them a huge shot and that's just what he did.
THE TAKEOVER PART II
Very next possession and this is when Aaron gets dangerous. Nesmith can get hot in a hurry and he's a tough shot maker and his teammates know it. Nesmith kept his team in this game offensively down the stretch.
Simply put, I'm a bit higher on Aaron Nesmith as others might be at this time of the year. It was a shame that his season was cut short, as I think he could have been someone to gain some ground in NBA circles as the year progressed, but I think there's still plenty of positive film for him to be someone to monitor throughout the process. His shooting percentages and ability as a catch and shoot weapon should have a team in the middle of the first round more than intrigued by adding him to their roster. As of now, the Vanderbilt sophomore wing sits at 18th overall on our 2020 NBA Draft Board, and he's trending upward.