Atlanta Hawks NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Aaron Nesmith

Highlighting Atlanta Hawks NBA Draft prospect Aaron Nesmith.

With Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish, the Atlanta Hawks are building a very fun, and very young team with sky-high offensive potential. Sure, De’Andre Hunter, Clint Capela, and even Reddish will bring defensive firepower, but the Hawks of the future are going to win games by simply outscoring their opponents.

For this reason, many have figured that the Atlanta Hawks will be targeting defensive players in the draft, and they’re probably right. But, if they want to go all-in and perhaps add to what could be the league’s best offense in a few years, they could target Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith this June.

Nesmith is a lethal scorer — perhaps the all-around best offensive player in the class. Nesmith made an impressive 51 percent of his shots from the field this season and an even more impressive 52 percent of his threes, on over eight attempts per game.

Granted, it’s a small sample size of 14 games as an injury ended his sophomore season early, but as a freshman, he shot nearly 40 percent from the field and 34 percent from three.

His silky smooth jumper is a joy to watch, and it’s actually a shame that most of his second and final collegiate season was cut short. If he was able to keep averaging anywhere near the 23.0 points per game he was pre-injury, he definitely would have gotten looks from lottery teams.

As it stands now, Nesmith is likely to go in the late-teens, early-twenties of the first-round. Teams in that late-lottery are scared by one thing, and probably rightfully so: his defense.

Nesmith gets effort points defensively, and from the tape I watched, never seems to give up on a play. He just doesn’t have the natural defensive tools of some, not unlike a certain All-Star point guard on the Hawks currently.

In those 14 games this season, Nesmith recorded a defensive rating of 106.8, much worse than fellow forward prospects like Isaac Okoro (101.3), Tyler Bey (85.7), Jaden McDaniels (95.4) and Saddiq Bey (101.0).

At the very least, Nesmith should be a microwave scorer off the bench, but one that’ll likely have to be hidden on D.

His step-back three is as beautiful as it is effective and could rival James Harden‘s for the best in the NBA with some more perfecting. His arsenal of shot-creation moves is almost overwhelming.

Fit with Atlanta Hawks:

Nesmith is 6’6, and could probably play the two, three, and even some small-ball four at the next level. If the Hawks take him, they wouldn’t be doing so to make him a starter, and Nesmith would come off the bench to back up De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, or whoever the Hawks have starting at small forward next season.

As mentioned in the intro, Nesmith fits Atlanta’s offensive mindset to a tee. He can both be the recipient of Trae Young’s passes and alleviate pressure off him by creating his own shot.

He almost certainly won’t shoot above or near 50 percent from three in the NBA, but if he can be a solid 40 percent guy, the Hawks would have a very scary offense for years to come.

Should the Atlanta Hawks target Aaron Nesmith in the NBA Draft?