With a bounty of draft picks from the 2019 Tradepocalypse summer, the Thunder will be scouting young prospects at the top of recruiting and draft classes once again. Daily Thunder will keep you informed on whether those players look like good targets for Oklahoma City.
|Projected draft class||2020|
|Projected draft age||20|
|Measurements||6’6″, 213 lbs.|
|Current Team||Vanderbilt Commodores|
Aaron Nesmith is having a shooting season for the ages in college basketball. Through 14 games, the sophomore from Vanderbilt is shooting an insane 52.2 percent from three on over eight attempts a game. The young wing has been mocked to OKC with Denver’s pick in recent drafts by The Athletic and ESPN. With the Thunder ranked 25th in the NBA in 3PT%, Nesmith’s dynamic shooting ability has the chance to elevate OKC’s offense to another level.
Nesmith’s best attribute and most translatable NBA skill is easily his perimeter shooting. Whether it’s coming off of screens and relocating, pull-ups, catch and shoot, he knocks them all down with ease. Here are a few clips from his 34 point performance on the road versus Richmond earlier this season.
There simply are not a ton of 6’6 players with a 7’0 wingspan who have the shooting capabilities that Nesmith possesses, especially while on the move. He currently ranks ninth in the NCAA in OBPM (Offensive Box Plus/Minus), second in 3-Point makes, and first in 3-Point percentage. He routinely knocks down shots from NBA range whether that’s curling off of screens or taking deep catch-and-shoots.
Another encouraging sign about Nesmith is that his shooting doesn’t dramatically decrease when facing tougher competition even though he’s on a mediocre Vanderbilt team. On the season Nesmith has a 68.5% TS. Per Bart Torvik, his TS% in five Top-100 games is 67.6% and is 71.7% in two Top-50 games. Nesmith is coming off an 18 point performance game versus Auburn and their stud defender and prospect Isaac Okoro. Nesmith showcased his elite ability to shoot off the move, especially in catch and shoot situations.
Nesmith also sports a decent FTr, sitting at .307 on the year. He is one of 13 players in the NCAA this season to have attempted 100+ three-pointers while having a FTr over .300, joining the likes of other elite offensive players like Markus Howard and Myles Powell. However, when you narrow the list to players who are 6’6 or taller, you only get three other players, Elijah Hughes, Derrick Alston, and CJ Ellerby. Nesmith crushes these players in terms of three-point percentage, shooting over 11 percent better than the next player Hughes.
Nesmith is shooting a respectable 56% at the rim and has only been assisted on 28% of his makes from there, indicating that he might have minuscule value as a self creator when driving.
Here is Nesmith compared to Cam Johnson, a sharpshooter who was the number 11 pick of last year’s draft. Keep in mind that Johnson was 23 years old when he was drafted by Phoenix.
*Win Shares and BPM are cumulative stats
Nesmith doesn’t provide much in terms of being a creator, as seen by his 13 assists in 500 minutes on the year, but he displays a high basketball-IQ on the offensive end so at least he isn’t making many mistakes when he has the ball in his hands.
On the defensive end Nesmith shows flashes of what he could possibly become, which is a capable 3&D player in the NBA. I’ve noticed that he seems to rotate well, especially when the opponent is driving towards the rim. He currently has a negative DBPM but has solid STL% and BLK%, which are higher than some other good defensive players in this class like Josh Green and Tre Jones.
As previously stated, Nesmith has recently been mocked to OKC in the 20s but given the fact that shooters are so highly valued in the NBA, I could see him being taken slightly higher than expected, like Cam Johnson last year.
Can Nesmith become what Joe Harris is offensively in the NBA? Or is his ceiling higher because of his additional length? The Thunder have needed a role player that can knock down threes at an elite clip for quite some time now, and Nesmith could fill that role this upcoming draft.
UPDATE: According to the Vanderbilt Hustler, Nesmith is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot and will likely miss the remainder of the 2019-2020 season.