There's only one basketball in an NBA game or any level of hoops, really. This is beyond obvious, of course, but it's a huge determining factor in who gets playing time in the NBA and who doesn't. It's something that players either adapt to or don't. If they don't, they can find themselves discarded after their rookie deal or sooner.
I attend a lot of high school camps as well as tournaments, and the one basketball always stands out to me. It especially stands out on the AAU circuits when there are many top-level amateurs on one team. Some players can adapt, whether it's an innate feel, intentional practicing, great guidance, or a mix of all of these.
Some players don't adapt and when they don't, it can lead to some awful play. Having great skill or phenomenal talent isn't enough alone to get playing time in the NBA. The way the game is covered, having to connect to such a gargantuan number of fans, can make it seem like that, though.
Players who get playing time learn how to help their team win possessions without being in the way. They can make a positive impact without touching the ball. This can allow for teams to develop a rhythm, and the more rhythm that is developed, the more likely it is for a team to find an identity.
For this Pacers team, these qualities could be more essential than most other teams. This is because of the cosmic force that their leader has become on the ball. This is because of Tyrese Haliburton.
The fourth-year pro from Oshkosh has evolved into one of the league's best offensive generators. He's scoring from everywhere on the court. He's not just getting teammates easier looks. He's getting them looks that otherwise wouldn't exist without his feel for tempo and rhythm. Some of these looks wouldn't exist without him on the floor, period.
Haliburton has exploded into that rare player who has an insane usage rate paired with insane efficiency. He's becoming the kind of player who makes All-NBA year in and year out. He's becoming a player that an organization genuinely believes in to build around. He's doing this almost exclusively with the one ball on the court in his hands.
This makes it all the more important for the Pacers to have high-level impact guys who don't need the ball. Enter a player who has excelled at making contributions this season without the ball. Enter a lottery pick whose marksmanship was raved about at the amateur level. Enter Aaron Nesmith.
Nesmith averaged over 20 points a game as a senior in high school and 23 points a game in his last season at Vanderbilt. It's unbelievably difficult to do that at the D1 level. It's rare that a player does it on 50/50/80 splits. Yes, 52% from distance, to be exact, and that was on eight attempts a game, too.
Some players can be a winning team's leading scorer at every level. Some can be the primary scorer in any and all situations. For Nesmith, that’s not the case but it hasn’t stopped him from developing his game.