Almost no one expected the Indiana Pacers to boast a 23-18 record halfway through the season heading into the present campaign. Boasting one of the younger teams in the association, fans and pundits alike penciled them in as a lottery team on the outside looking in.
However, thanks to the ascent of Tyrese Haliburton, the upstart play of rookie Bennedict Mathurin, and reliable veterans, the Pacers find themselves in the thick of the playoff race. But of course, the team has not been bereft of surprise contributors who have been instrumental in their success so far.
One player, Aaron Nesmith, has been a major revelation for Indiana this season. Acquired from the Boston Celtics in the Malcolm Brogdon trade, the third-year swingman has definitely been more than a mere throw-in for the Blue and Gold.
Aaron Nesmith has been a revelation for the Indiana Pacers this season
Once an afterthought with the Celtics, Nesmith has been proof of why the Pacers actually aced that Brogdon trade, contrary to popular opinion. After starting off the bench in a rather minimal role in Rick Carlisle’s rotation, he has become a mainstay in the opening group as the nominal power forward in the team’s new micro-ball starting lineup.
The result? The Pacers have gone 8-3 since his permanent move to the starting unit. Nesmith’s defensive malleability and low-usage offensive utility have been excellent fits in Indiana’s pace-and-space lineups. During that stretch, he has averaged 13.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on 50 percent shooting overall.
Nesmith has been particularly adept at attacking close-outs, a frequent window to attack for the Pacers given their three-point-heavy offense. His shooting from rainbow country has also been above league average, arming Indiana with a bona fide perimeter threat in contrast to the early part of the season when the struggling Jalen Smith occupied the role.
There’s still 41 games remaining on the schedule for the Pacers, but with the season only getting tougher from here on out, it’s imperative that they are able to find and impose their identity at this juncture. Fortunately, Aaron Nesmith has been that glue guy who has allowed Indiana to stay true to its colors and successfully claim wins along the way.
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