Celtics Address Need by Drafting Two Gifted Shooters During First Round

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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BOSTON – The Boston Celtics addressed a glaring need during Wednesday night’s NBA Draft by selecting two of the most accomplished shooters out of the prospect pool.

Boston used the 14th overall pick to select sharpshooting guard Aaron Nesmith out of Vanderbilt, and then selected Oregon guard Payton Pritchard with the 26th overall pick.

Nesmith, a self-proclaimed “sniper,” is regarded by many as the top shooting prospect in the entire 2020 Draft pool. He shot a mindboggling 52.2 percent from 3-point range on 8.2 attempts per game before his season was cut short due to injury after 14 contests.

Nesmith’s shooting ability is borderline extraordinary, as ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas outlined on his network’s broadcast of the Draft.

“There’s nobody better catch-and-shoot in this Draft. Nobody better shooting off of screens,” Bilas said. “He’s got 1.4 points per possession in jump shots off of screens. That is ridiculous.”

Pritchard is not quite on Nesmith’s level with regard to 3-point marksmanship – truthfully, not many are – but he is indeed an accomplished shooter in his own right.

Pritchard connected on 41.5 percent of his 3-pointers this past season while attempting 6.8 shots from long distance per game. He shot 38.0 percent from beyond the arc over his four-year career at Oregon, which featured Pac-12 Player of the Year honors this past season.

Pritchard’s resume extends well beyond his shooting and conference Player of the Year honors as well. He also earned the 2020 Lute Olson Award as the nation’s top non-freshman, the 2020 Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard, and he was a consensus first-team All-American.

By adding two established shooters like Nesmith and Pritchard, the Celtics addressed a significant need on their roster. Last season, not a single role player on their team shot better than 37.8 percent from 3-point range. Only one player overall, Jayson Tatum, shot better than 38.3 percent from long distance.

The lack of 3-point marksmanship certainly affected the playmaking abilities of the team’s top scorers in Tatum, Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown. There is less room to operate and break defenses down when shooters are not surrounding those stars.

Nesmith and Pritchard have the ability to open things up for that trio and the rest of the roster merely by standing on the court. Their shooting ability demands respect, which could very well provide the team’s top players with more shooting, driving and passing lanes.

Shooting is one skill that translates well from the collegiate ranks to the NBA ranks. It also just so happened to have been a skill the Celtics needed and found during the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft.