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Aaron Nesmith takes lessons learned in Boston to Pacers

In the first three games of the season, former Celtics draft pick Aaron Nesmith is scoring 12.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for the Pacers.Emilee Chinn/Getty

Aaron Nesmith had a limited role during his first two seasons with the Celtics after being drafted 14th overall in 2020, in large part because he was seeking a role on a title contender.

He appeared in 98 game for Boston, averaging just 12.7 minutes per contest, but he said the experience was invaluable anyway.

“I would say, being able to learn from [Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown], when Marcus [Smart] was here, their day-to-day routine,” Nesmith said. “Al [Horford], like, those guys are vets of vets, so definitely taking little things from those guys and using them.”

Nesmith was traded to the Pacers in the summer of 2022 in the deal that brought guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics. He started 60 games last year, and entered Wednesday’s game against the Celtics averaging 12.7 points per game. The Pacers clearly view him as a key part of their future, as evidenced by the three-year, $33 million contract extension Nesmith received recently.

“It’s a blessing, the opportunity I have here, the guys here, the staff here, the front office, I wanted to be here for a long time,” Nesmith said. “So I’m happy we were able to make that happen.”


Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said that when Nesmith was in high school and college, offensive sets were constantly run for him. There is much more speed and randomness in the NBA, Carlisle said, so it just took Nesmith some time to adjust to that.

“He’s been one of our best defensive players and, obviously, we all know he can shoot the ball really well. And he’s developed other parts of his game,” Carlisle said. “He drives it now. He’s making really good, simple reads and a very important part of what we’re doing here.”

Oshae Brissett earns praise from both sides

Former Pacers forward Oshae Brissett is trying to solidify a spot in Boston’s rotation after signing a two-year deal last summer. He did not appear in last week’s opener against the Knicks, but then coach Joe Mazzulla credited him with changing the tenor of last Friday’s win over the Heat with his work on the offensive glass.


Carlisle, for one, said his work as an offensive rebounder is no fluke.

“Oshae is an elite — and when I say elite, he’s in the top two or three percentile in the league as an offensive rebounder,” Carlisle said. “He’s a great runner, his shooting got better and better, and athletically he’s terrific. He’s tough, he takes charges and he’s one of the greatest teammates you’re ever going to have.

“Being one of eight or nine in this rotation tells you something about the kind of player he is, because cracking this rotation ain’t easy.”

Jordan Walsh heads north for some work

The Celtics assigned rookie forward Jordan Walsh to the Maine Celtics. Mazzulla said it’ll be important for the second-round pick to get playing time at that level.

“Jordan’s got a chance at the 3-and-D slot of what the NBA is,” Mazzulla said. “And he plays really, really hard. I thought he had a really good training camp with just the developmental team and the things that he’s learning. And you just need reps. Like, it’s exactly what we talked about with these other guys. You’ve got to have reps and you have to develop a defensive identity first and then you have to know ways to affect offense.


“And then once you do those two things you can kind of grow into other roles. But the most important thing is he competes defensively and he figures out how to create two-on-ones on offense with or without the ball.” … Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton missed Wednesday’s game with a sprained ankle.

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him @adamhimmelsbach.