BOSTON — Aaron Nesmith never found his footing with the Celtics, but it’s not hard to understand where things went wrong.

Drafted 14th overall out of Vanderbilt in 2020, Nesmith was instantly thrown into the fire that is NBA basketball. The Celtics were tasked with navigating the weighing load of championship expectations, creating an environment that was far ahead of Nesmith’s developmental starting point.

“The league can break you because there’s so many changes that go on and you don’t get to pick what situation you go into,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said before Wednesday night’s Boston-Indiana matchup. “Sometimes it can take a year, it can take two, it can take three. Aaron, regardless of circumstances, brought it every single day and you’re seeing, kind of, the fruits of that labor. Really happy for him and he deserves it.”

Nesmith, a standout shooter in college, shot 55.2% during his second and final year at Vanderbilt. That posed potential that understandably Boston elected to explore back in 2020, but wasn’t enough to place Nesmith in the “untouchable” category.

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There wasn’t room for Nesmith, similar to Payton Prichard’s situation last season rummaging for minutes behind Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon — a comparison Mazzulla mentioned himself.

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Yet, with a clean slate after Boston traded Nesmith to Indiana, Nesmith has quickly flipped the script on the trajectory of his career. The now-24-year-old inked a three-year, $33 million extension after his debut season with the Pacers, proving Danny Ainge right (somewhat).

After averaging a then-career-best 10.2 points through 73 games played last season, Nesmith recorded a career-high 26-point performance with the Pacers in their second game of the season — against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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The reality of Boston’s firm stance on chasing Banner 18 over everything might’ve stunted Nesmith’s growth for a two-year period, but it’s since opened the door for a steady role and handsome payday in Indiana.

Nesmith faced the Celtics for the fourth time in his career on Wednesday night during Indiana’s trip to Boston.

Featured image via Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports Images