LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 12: Aaron Nesmith #24 of the Vanderbilt Commodores celebrates in the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on January 12, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Mid-first round prospect Aaron Nesmith has the three-point potential teams drool over in today’s NBA. The Brooklyn Nets should be interested.

Aaron Nesmith may be a bit of an unknown, but the sharpshooter has more than earned the distinction of being the best shooter in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Brooklyn Nets would be wise to keep an eye on the sharpshooting wing.

Hailing from Charleston, SC, Nesmith didn’t receive much attention from Division I programs ahead of his senior season at Porter-Gaud School. After a senior season where he was named South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, the four-star recruit chose to attend Vanderbilt over offers from Florida and Virginia Tech, among others.

Nesmith had a solid freshman season filling in for the injured Darius Garland, but didn’t really emerge as a potential lottery pick until this past season. As a sophomore, Nesmith shot an unreal 52.2% from deep to go along with 23.0 points per game — more than double his freshman mark.

An injury derailed his season in late-January prior to the Commodores flameout in the SEC Tournament, but the sharpshooter garnered enough hype to gain considerable momentum ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Strengths

What makes Nesmith such an intriguing selection in the first round draft pool is his glaring similarities to the modern-day “three and D” forward in the NBA. Nesmith obviously has the shooting down to second nature. His smooth stroke and effortless off-ball movement makes Nesmith a dream insertion into a system that values isolation dish-outs.

The defense aspect just comes with his natural size and great wingspan for his position. Nesmith can switch very well between forward positions, which has become more common in the NBA with stretch-fours looking to space out.

With perfect wing dimensions, the defense comes naturally with his ultra-instinctive playstyle, but his shooting is where the main draw comes from. The Vanderbilt product is an elite scorer from behind the arc, while also being an effective scorer when entering the paint on cuts to the basket.

Another caveat to his offensive game is his ability to move without the ball. All shooters need to occupy the floor as effectively without the ball in their hands than with it. Nesmith reads screens very well and spaces the floor nicely with the dominant ball handler. This in turn allows Nesmith to catch defenders off balance and use his flawless footwork to get free for an open shot.

Weaknesses

In order for Nesmith to hopefully become a main option on a team, he needs to develop his playmaking and iso skills, which are currently troublesome in his young career.

The shooter was unstoppable off-ball and in a few dribble pull-up situations, but creating his own shot is severely lacking. Nesmith almost needs to have the ball in someone else’s hands before taking the reins. It’s not the worst weakness in the world to have, but in order to progress to the next stage of his development, the forward needs to work on his independence with the basketball.

Nesmith’s handles coincide with his poor playmaking skills, as his assist numbers were putrid in college, albeit surrounded by a poor Vanderbilt squad. When you average less than an assist a game however, it does not look particularly pretty. Nesmith really needs to spread out his spacing and look for more than a shot if he is to last in the pros.

Fit with the Nets

I’m not sure there’s a better fit in the entire draft for Nesmith than the Nets. The only problem will be hoping he slips far enough for Brooklyn to capitalize.

Nesmith is currently projected as a late-lottery to mid-first rounder, so there’s a lot of wiggle room for teams to take a chance on the comfortable shooter. But with the Nets possibly looking to add a third star via trade, valuable rotation spots could be up for grabs if the team decides to part ways with its current cast of reliable shooting options.

Nesmith would fit perfectly alongside ball-dominant stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The duo is dependent on taking the isolation and providing offensive firepower, but in the event of eventual double teams or just better defense against good offense, Irving and Durant will need to dish the ball to a reliable shooter on the wings.

Enter the Vanderbilt prospect, who, as previously mentioned, still needs some time to develop into a more independent offensive player. Combining his off-ball prowess with his dependency on receiving a beautifully placed pass in his shooting pocket, Nesmith seems like an ideal match in the Nets expected system come 2020.

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