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Why Nesmith could make a lot of sense for Kings at No. 12

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  • Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a series breaking down the Kings' potential selections with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

The top end of the 2020 NBA Draft lottery is all over the place and the Kings have no idea who might fall to them at No. 12. There is a group of prospects that fit their biggest needs, but each has a slightly different skill set.

Do the Kings want a scoring wing? Or should they chase more of a combo forward? Can they find a player who can do it all?

In the latest mock draft on NBC Sports Bay Area, we have the Kings selecting Villanova’s Saddiq Bey and you can find that breakdown here. But the Kings will have options and this pick likely will come down to personal preference.

One of those alternatives might be Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith.

Stats and Measurements

Stats: 23.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 51.2 percent FG, 52.2 percent 3-point Age: 20 Height: 6-foot-6 Weight: 215 Wingspan: 6-foot-10

Nesmith isn’t an elite athlete, but he has solid size and length to defend NBA small forwards and he uses his strength well on both ends of the court. With an increased role in his sophomore season at Vanderbilt, Nesmith excelled, especially from long range where he proved to be one of the better shooters in the nation.

After tearing up the SEC through the first 14 games of the season, Nesmith went down with a stress fracture in his right foot and missed the remainder of the year.

 

Strengths

There isn’t a better off-the-ball shooter in the 2020 NBA Draft. Nesmith is in constant motion and always is ready to catch and let it fly. He understands his role in this area and he clearly has found his niche.

Nesmith’s perimeter shot chart is incredible. Of the five areas around the perimeter, the left corner is his weakest point, and he still knocked down 44 percent. He shot an incredible 63 percent from the right corner, 59 percent from the left elbow and 58 percent from the top of the key. Overall, he shot 52.2 percent on 8.2 3-point attempts per game.

He’s active on the offensive end and constantly is reading and sliding to open spots on the floor. He uses screens well and has a quick trigger on his jumper.

Outside of his perimeter shooting, Nesmith is a solid defensive rebounder, which should translate to the NBA level due to his strength and wingspan.

On the defensive end of the court, Nesmith holds his own. He doesn’t have elite athleticism, but again, he knows how to use his strength and length to hold his position. He’s a smart team defender, closes out well on perimeter shooters and plays the passing lanes.

Nesmith doesn’t turn the ball over often and rarely tries to do too much. He knows his role, is a hard worker off the court and has focused his training on strengthening some of his weaknesses.

Weaknesses

For as good a shooter as Nesmith is from the perimeter, he’s slightly limited in his offensive game. He has a floater and can score in transition, but he is a below average ball-handler and most of his scoring comes off of catch-and-shoot opportunities.

While Nesmith uses his strength on the defensive end, he averages just 4.5 free throw attempts per game, which is a low number for a player that averages 23.0 points per contest. On the plus side, he hit 82.5 percent from the stripe.

Nesmith’s ability to shoot opens the floor for everyone else, which is his contribution on the offensive end. He isn’t a strong passer, as he dished out just 13 assists in 14 games in his final year at Vanderbilt. His assist percentage (6.9 percent) was extremely low, although his role was to let it fly in Jerry Stackhouse’s offense.

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On the defensive end, Nesmith lacks elite lateral quickness and he isn’t a tremendous leaper. He can work to get quicker and slightly increase his athleticism with an NBA training staff, but these issues limit his defensive upside.

The foot injury is a concern, but it’s hard to find additional information on the exact nature. If he wasn’t sidelined and he continued to shine throughout the remainder of the season, it’s likely he would have worked his way into the top 10 of the draft.

Fit with Kings

The Kings are at a crossroads with multiple players. Buddy Hield isn’t happy with his role off the bench and the team has a $7.2 million decision on Nemanja Bjelica as well. If they move away from one or both of these players, Nesmith’s ability to stretch the floor and provide another scoring option would help dramatically.

 

With Sacramento, Nesmith would primarily be used at the three, which would allow coach Luke Walton to shift Harrison Barnes to the four for longer stretches. This pair would have some switchability on the defensive end, especially against small-ball lineups.

Nesmith’s ability to move and find openings would pair perfectly with De’Aaron Fox’s drive-and-kick skill set. He might not be able to replace Hield’s scoring ability right away, but he could easily earn minutes in year one in Sacramento.

If he can improve as a ball handler, there could come a time when he is used differently, but early in his career, he’ll be asked to stay on the perimeter and fire away.

Player Comparison

Klay Thompson lite; bigger J.J. Redick