Potential Sixers Draft Target – Aaron Nesmith

Looking for a young, JJ Redick to run off screens and space the floor? This 6’6 wing from Vanderbilt is arguably one of the best shooters in the NBA Draft. How does Aaron Nesmith project at the next level? What would he bring to the Philadelphia 76ers? Let’s take a look.

Links to previous Sixers draft targets…

Overview

Aaron Nesmith was a 4-star recruit out of Charleston, South Carolina. According to 247 Sports, he received offers from South Carolina, Florida and Georgetown before enrolling at Vanderbilt in June 2018. Nesmith played in all 32 games and made 19 starts as a freshman. He averaged 11 points per game and scored 20 or more points 5 times. He shot 33.7% from 3 on 5.5 attempts per game along with a true shooting percentage of 53.6%. Nesmith’s phenomenal freshman season named him to the Preseason All-SEC Second Team.

A brilliant sophomore season cut short…

Aaron Nesmith was one of the most prolific shooters in the country. He averaged 23 points in 35.7 minutes per game and routinely showcased his NBA range from 3. Nesmith’s time at Vanderbilt ended abruptly with a right foot injury just 14 games into the 2019-2020 season. Vanderbilt has been decimated by injury over the last couple of years. Previous top-5 pick Darius Garland suffered a torn ACL 5 games into the season in 2018.

In late March, Aaron Nesmith declared that he will enter the NBA Draft and hire an agent. According to most scouts, Nesmith is currently projected as a mid to late first round pick. If the Draft Combine remains as scheduled, Nesmith will want test well athletically and show teams he is fully recovered from the stress fracture. What are Nesmith’s strengths and weaknesses? How could Aaron Nesmith potentially fit on the Philadelphia 76ers? Here we go.

Strengths

  • Pure floor spacer: This is a sniper from the perimeter. Aaron Nesmith is dynamic at stretching the court and shooting off movement. He shot 52.2% from 3 in 115 attempts as a sophomore and despite only playing 14 games, he finished with the 10th most 3 pointers in the SEC. During his career at Vanderbilt, he shot 41% from 3 in 290 attempts (6.3 attempts per game). Due to his ability to shoot from beyond and move without the ball, many of his teammates at Vanderbilt compared him to Klay Thompson.
  • Efficient scorer: This is an incredibly efficient scorer from the perimeter. Aaron Nesmith posted an insane 127.8 offensive rating through 14 games as a sophomore. Nesmith was the offensive rock for Vanderbilt, as he scored in double figures in every game and posted a ridiculous effective field goal percentage of 65.9%. His true shooting percentage was 68.5% and he shot 82.5% from the free throw line on 4.5 attempts per game.
  • Solid team defender: Despite possessing average lateral movement, Aaron Nesmith uses his length well and should be able to defend guards and wings at the next level. He’s got very good strength and length that should allow him to handle switches on defense. Similar to my report on Saddiq Bey, Aaron Nesmith should never be seen as a true defensive stopper. He projects to be a solid team defender in the NBA. However, he’s solid at generating steals and rotating on defense on the perimeter.

Weaknesses

  • Not a playmaker or shot creator: Aaron Nesmith is not a good passer and has a weak handle. He should never be expected to score in iso situations at the next level.
  • Limited athleticism: This is not a great athlete as he possesses limited lateral movement and explosiveness.  
  • Doesn’t impact the game beyond shooting: Aaron Nesmith 51 turnovers to 45 assists as a freshman and 75 turnovers compared to 58 assists as a sophomore.

Film Highlight

Aaron Nesmith has one of the sweetest strokes in this year’s draft class. His ability to consistently shoot on the move with high percentages makes him an intriguing fit with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Aaron Nesmith made ridiculous shots like this consistently from NBA range during his 14 game stint last season. He’s one of the best floor spacers in the class.

Aaron Nesmith’s ability to shoot over the screen is elite. Nesmith is a perfect fit with what the Sixers want to do on offense.

Here is an excellent video breaking down Nesmith’s elite ability to move without the ball and shoot off the catch.

Aaron Nesmith uses his length well on defense. He’s a solid team defender with an excellent frame and wingspan to generate steams and provide some rim protection. However, Nesmith should never be thought of as an elite defensive prospect.

Fit with the Philadelphia 76ers

Looking for a bomber to groom next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid? When you look at how Aaron Nesmith was utilized at Vanderbilt, the majority of his offense came from shooting off screens, in the DHO and in the catch and shoot. That immediately makes Aaron Nesmith a prime target for the Sixers in the NBA Draft. Nesmith is comfortable shooting off screens and running off movement.

Whether you were in or out on Furkan last season, Korkmaz has been a pleasant surprise this season. In July 2019, Furkan signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers and I was as puzzled as most of you. Many of us were unsure if Furkan had a future in Philadelphia. Fast forward to February 2020 and I was extremely upset that Korkmaz wasn’t added to the 2020 Three-Point Contest. That’s how much has changed in just a span of a few months.

But what about the forgotten man, Marial Shayok?

What about the forgotten one putting in work in Wilmingtown? The Sixers have a player in Marial Shayok blossoming with the Delaware Blue Coats. Not too long ago, Rookie Wire ranked Shayok as the top prospect in the G League. Marial Shayok shot 35.8% from 3 on 7.2 attempts per game (260 total attempts). He averaged 22.4 points per game and featured a true shooting percentage of 56.8%. What happens to Marial Shayok next season? What is his role moving forward?

Could Aaron Nesmith be our future Furkan?

I’m not saying Furkan is going anywhere. He’s a veteran and a shooter making 1.7 million next season. That’s extremely important. Moving forward, Aaron Nesmith is exactly what Brett Brown wants on offense and could potentially be that eventual replacement for Furkan Korkmaz off the bench down the road. Could Nesmith be the next bomber groomed in Philadelphia? When I shake my magic eight ball here, all signs point to yes.

Stat Nuggets

  • At the time of injury, Aaron Nesmith led the NCAA in 3 pointers made per game at 4.28
  • Nesmith was a prolific shooter, evident by making seven or more three pointers in 4 games as a sophomore.
  • Aaron Nesmith made at least two three pointers in all but two games as a sophomore
  • Nesmith had a very solid offensive win share rating of 2.2. In comparison, projected top pick Anthony Edwards had an offensive win share rating of 2.5.
  • Aaron Nesmith was an above average defender in college. He featured a 106.8 defensive rating and generated 1.6 steals per 40 minutes.
  • Nesmith is not a good passer or shot creator. The most assists he had in a game was 3, which occurred twice vs Tulsa and Auburn

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, shooting wins in the NBA. Aaron Nesmith seems to be a lock for being drafted in the first round. If Nesmith can test well at the Draft Combine, he has a real chance of being a late lottery pick due to being lights out from beyond the arc. Similar to my post on Saddiq Bey, this is another no brainer for the Sixers at #22 if he falls in the draft. He fits the Sixers offense to a “t” and would provide much need spacing for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Aaron Nesmith is a prime prospect that should be on all Sixers fans radars for the 2020 NBA Draft.

For everything Sixers and the NBA Draft, please be sure to follow us on Twitter @BlueRouteTPL. Also feel free to check out our previous video breakdown on Sixers draft target Saddiq Bey.