By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Drafted by the Boston Celtics just six days ago, first-round picks Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard are officially in the fold with NBA contracts to their name, the Celtics announced Tuesday.
Selected with the No. 14 overall pick, Nesmith joins the Celtics after a two-year run at Vanderbilt, with 14.8 points per game and a 44.3 field goal percentage over a 45-game run with the Commodores. The 6-foot-6 wing was at his best during an injury-shortened 14-game 2019-20 campaign, too, with 23 points per game and a downright lethal 52.2 percent mark from deep. That conversion rate from deep was a school record, and really was Nesmith’s game, as the South Carolina native dropped at least seven three-pointers in four of his 14 showings in 2019-20, including a collegiate career best eight against SMU.
“Aaron is a terrific shooter, great size, and felt like he was the best guy that we could get right there,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said last week. “We’re very excited about Aaron. We need shooting.”
Pritchard, meanwhile, joined the Celtics with the No. 26 overall pick after a four-year career at Oregon.
A 6-foot-2 guard, Pritchard led the Pac-12 in both points (20.5) and assists (5.5) per game in 2019-20, becoming just the fourth player in conference history to do that, joining a group featuring Gary Payton, Damon Stoudamire, and Jason Terry. Pritchard is also the only player in Pac-12 history to tally at least 1,900 points, 500 rebounds, and 600 assists
“He brings a great intensity even as a freshman and watching his development into his senior year where he can had to carry much more of an offensive load,” Ainge said of Pritchard. “He’s a guy I think can play in any system, he can play with any players. I love how he pushes pace. He’ll make the other guys run. He’s playing with the ball in his hands, he gets the ball up the court very quickly and I think that’ll be a help to get the rest of the players up the court very quickly.
“He’s a fun player and we’re very excited to get him.”
According to the Celtics, Nesmith will wear No. 26. Nesmith, who wore No. 24 at Vanderbilt (that number is retired for Sam Jones in Boston), will become the ninth player in franchise history to wear the number, and the first since Jabari Bird (2018).
Pritchard will wear No. 11, worn by Enes Kanter in 2019-20, and by 11 different players since 2001.