Aaron Nesmith was tabbed as one of the top shooters, if not the best, in the lead-up to the 2020 NBA Draft.
As it turned out, the Boston Celtics drafted and then traded away the most prolific 3-point shooter to come out of that class — 16 picks after choosing Nesmith at No. 14 overall.
The Celtics selected Desmond Bane at No. 30 and moments later shipped him to the Memphis Grizzlies, where he has gone on to make an immense impact in his first two seasons in the NBA. Boston received second-round picks in 2023 and 2025.
Bane has made the most out of his opportunity with the Grizzlies, rising to prominence by hitting 43.6% of his 3-pointers this season, the second-best mark in the league. While Bane probably has former Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge regretting his decision to trade him, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound combo guard has no problems with how everything turned out.
“I mean, it is what it is (smiles),” Bane told The Athletic’s Sam Amick. “I thought that was going to be home — Boston — but I’m super thankful that I ended up here in Memphis with the young culture, the coaching staff and an organization that believes in me and sees the future and a pathway for me to grow. No ill feelings. I’m thankful to be here.”
The Celtics certainly could use Bane’s sharpshooting ability, as it’s their biggest need on a roster that is loaded with talent.
If Bane currently played for the Celtics, he would be arguably their best 3-point shooter. Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard (drafted four spots ahead of Bane) are the only Boston players who took more than three 3-point attempts per game and shot better than 40% from beyond the arc this season.
Bane’s contributions for Memphis have far outweighed what Nesmith has produced for Boston. Bane netted 18.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 29.8 minutes per game this season to become a critical factor in the Grizzlies claiming the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Nesmith has yet to carve out a consistent role in Boston’s rotation, playing only 11 minutes per game and averaging 3.8 points this season while shooting a woeful 27% from 3-point range.
If Bane puts together impressive performances in the upcoming postseason, it only will further haunt the Celtics for not keeping him on draft night.