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2020 NBA Draft Profiles: Aaron Nesmith

The sharpshooting wing could make the Mavericks’ offense too much to handle.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As one of the best shooters in the entire class, Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith is going to receive a lot of calls before draft night. Although the shooting is downright incredible, Nesmith has plenty of question marks. The biggest of those is his health.

The Specs

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 215 pounds

Wingspan: 6’10”

Key Notes


  • Incredible shooter, one of the best in this class
  • Doesn’t get bored on offense, is constantly moving
  • Looks really good off-screens
  • Good overall IQ, disciplined
  • Doesn’t do hardly anything with the ball in his hands
  • Inconsistent and poor finisher at the rim


  • Very much a team defender rather than individual
  • Good on rotations/awareness/IQ
  • Hindered by athleticism, tends to gets put on skates
  • Not going to become a shot-blocker
  • 3-and-D is a mislabel, he’s not impactful enough defensively to be called such

Active Player Comparisons

If everything goes wrong: Terrance Ferguson

If everything goes right: J.J. Reddick (playstyle more so than efficiency)

Most Realistic Outcome: Landry Shamet + higher volume and efficiency

Stats and Accomplishments

Best Games Last Season

at Richmond: 34 points (!!!), 7-of-12 three-pointers made, seven rebounds, two steals

vs. UNC-Wilmington: 34 points (you’ve got to be kidding me), 7-of-10 three-pointers made, six rebounds, two steals

3 Key Things

  1. The Shooting

Nesmith put up some absurd shooting numbers last season. After only playing 14 games, it’s fair if you wish to take it with a grain of salt. But I just can’t get over how ridiculous some of the numbers are. Here are some of his most notable shooting stats from Synergy Sports:

  • Jump shots - 99th percentile
  • Catch-and-shoot - 99th percentile
  • Off-screens - 97th percentile

In case you are unfamiliar with these tracking analytics, this means Nesmith was perhaps the most efficient shooter in all of college basketball last season. If you want to take it back to basics, Nesmith made 60 of his 115 threes last season or an absurd 52.5 percent. His career average is far lower at 41.0 percent, but that’s still a very solid number.

2. The Finishing

There are guys in the NBA who can shoot the lights out every single night, but can’t make layups. Players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Victor Oladipo both shot below 50 percent on their layups last season. It’s not a mystery. Layups require control and touch through contact that some shooters just don’t have. Nesmith is one of these guys. He shot just 47 percent around the rim last season according to Synergy Sports. Hopefully his touch near the basket improves to where he can (at least) finish the occasional cut to the basket or pull off a straight-line drive.

3. The Injury

Nesmith played just 14 games last season due a stress fracture in his foot. The much-smarter-than-me draft people I’ve spoken to have said this shouldn’t be too concerning. The bigger issue would be if he suffered another fracture in the same foot. Luckily for him, the frenzy of 2020 could oddly play in Nesmith’s favor. With him suffering the injury in early January, it looks like it’s going be at least a full year before Nesmith is playing competitive basketball again. The downside of an extended layoff could be a loss of athleticism, but perhaps that gamble is one worth taking.

The Checklist

Role with the Mavericks

Flat out bucket-getter off the bench. A guy you can plug into just about any lineup, except for maybe beside Seth Curry due to defensive concerns. He will be constantly moving around the court, a trait that works wonders in Rick Carlisle’s offense. The ability to make shots with ease should get him big minutes early on.


There is a lot that needs to happen for Nesmith to reach his full potential. He has to improve the finishing and become a better defender. But lights-out shooters are one of the best commodities in today’s NBA. Look at how useful Duncan Robinson has been for the Heat through the playoffs. Robinson is a deadly shooter but is honestly subpar at everything else. Yet here he is, playing nearly 30 minutes a game on a Heat team in the Finals. Nesmith is going to be like this, and it’s absolutely going to be worth it. He is going to have nights where he completely disappears because his shot is off. But on the nights that he’s on, he’s going to get you a bucket any time you want. If Nesmith falls to 18, this should be the Mavericks guy.