3 Best performances in Indiana Pacers preseason loss to Houston Rockets

Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Pacers preseason, Ben Sheppard
Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Pacers preseason, Ben Sheppard /
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Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Pacers preseason, Aaron Nesmith
Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Pacers preseason, Aaron Nesmith /

3. Aaron Nesmith

We had to save the best for last, as Indiana’s brightest star of the night was 23-year-old Aaron Nesmith.

Coming to Indiana in the summer of 2022 in the trade that sent Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics, Nesmith was quite the polarizing figure among Indiana Pacers fans initially.

Some saw him as an expendable piece that was only there to make up salary, while others (myself included) saw him as a potential rotation player and saw the trade to Indiana as a chance to revitalize his career following two uneventful seasons in Boston.

It turns out the latter would be true, as Nesmith experienced a career revival in Indiana, averaging career-highs across the board while starting 60 of his 73 games.

However, going into the 2023-24 season, there were doubts as to how many minutes Nesmith would get in the new and improved Indiana rotation, which added swingmen such as Bruce Brown, Ben Sheppard, and even Jarace Walker, who sometimes plays the same position as Nesmith.

However, if his performance against Houston is anything to go by, Nesmith will be just fine in the new rotation and will have no problem carving out minutes for himself.

Already known as an impressive shooter, Nesmith improved on all aspects of his game in Indiana, showcasing an outstanding first step and burst of speed for creative finishes around the basket, reminiscent of his Vanderbilt days prior to the foot injury.

In addition to the creative layups, Nesmith also showed that he was not shying away from attacking the basket with authority, getting an impressive two-handed dunk off a basket cut, which is sure to have Pacers fans excited and even got the seal of approval from Quinn Buckner himself.

In addition to the scoring ability, Nesmith also showcased some handling ability, as despite not having any assists, he did bring the ball up the court a few times and set up plays for his teammates, much to the surprise of Pacers fans watching from home.

Overall, in 20 minutes of play, Aaron Nesmith finished with 18 points (7-of-9 FG, 1-of-3 3PT, 3-of-3 FT) and one steal. He led the Pacers in scoring on the night and was one of the few bright spots of an all-around unremarkable Pacers performance.

With Nesmith improving in year four, Pacers fans have wondered how much Buddy Hield’s presence is needed. In fact, some have even suggested that Nesmith should get a higher rotation spot than Hield come playoff time due to his defense and abilities outside of shooting the basketball.

Others have speculated that with Nesmith and Ben Sheppard’s impressive showings so far, Hield’s position on the team may be in jeopardy, and it may not be as necessary to keep him as it seemed to be earlier.

Next. 2 studs, 1 dud from Pacers preseason loss to Rockets. dark

One thing is for sure, though: Aaron Nesmith played extremely well against Houston, and if this is something he can carry into the regular season, he will very soon forget about his days as a Celtic and make the Malcolm Brogdon trade look even better.