Indiana Pacers wing Aaron Nesmith started off his career in Boston not playing much. With the Celtics, he appeared in 98 games across two seasons, and he played less than 10 minutes in 41 of those outings. He was always working hard, by all accounts. He stayed ready even when the opportunities weren’t there, and that allowed him to improve even while outside of the rotation. When he was traded to the Indiana Pacers in 2022, he was given an everyday role instantly. That changed his career trajectory. Now, he’s an established rotation player for the Pacers and a part of their long-term future. His defense and shooting has been valuable to the franchise this season. One of his coaches in Boston, then-assistant Will Hardy, worked with Nesmith often. He helped the young wing get better even when he wasn’t playing, and they developed a relationship. Hardy is now the head coach of the Utah Jazz, and he’s seen growth from his former player since the two overlapped with the Celtics. “I love Aaron. Very happy for him and the contract extension he got,” he said last week. Nesmith received a three-year, $33 million extension with the Pacers in October. “He’s a really hard working guy. His physicality isn’t talked about enough, his athleticism isn’t talked about enough.” Hardy praised Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle and his staff for putting Nesmith in positions to succeed. They believed in the young wing and gave him an opportunity right away.
Nesmith deserves credit for taking advantage of that opportunity. He averaged 10.1 points per game last season and improved his efficiency while being one of the team’s best perimeter defenders.