One-on-one with Indiana Pacers wing Aaron Nesmith
Aaron Nesmith was acquired by the Indiana Pacers in July and is already making an impact on his new team.
It took only two games for the young wing to be promoted to the starting five. He has been a solid defender for the franchise thus far and his skill development this year has made him an offensive player with more versatility.
“Nesmith is a guy who wants to guard the best guy to start the match,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said about Nesmith. “He’s tough, physically strong, and he cares about all the right stuff. “
India has a 3. 89 net rating with Nesmith on the court and a -8. 85 net rating with him on the bench. His third-year pro has made a huge impact on his new team.
Nesmith chatted one-on-one with AllPacers recently for a wide-ranging conversation about his time with the team, his relationship with Carlisle, adjusting after being traded, and much more.
AllPacers: So you get your first start of the season tonight. How did that go down?
Aaron Nesmith: Just playing the role that coach Carlisle asked me to play. I will do my best to bring energy and defense to the team. To spark the first group and give direction so that our second unit can follow it.
AllPacers: Rick [Carlisle] just talked about how you want to guard the best player on the other team. What makes you a good fit for this group or any other group?
Nesmith: Yes. This year, I take a lot pride in my defense. I want to be the best defender of the floor every time that I step on it. To do that, I must take on the challenge to guard the best player on the other team for the entire game. So far, I feel like I have done a great job. I will continue to work on it and improve.
AllPacers: Three games in with a new franchise. What does it feel like to have settled in with the Pacers team after playing a few games?
Nesmith: I think I’ve settled in pretty good here with all the guys. We all get along well and we all hang out together. We all enjoy playing together and for each others. It’s been a lot fun. It’s been everything I hoped it would be.
AllPacers: You’ve talked about, and there’ve been questions about, how Jalen [Smith] came here last year and got a guaranteed role, and how it helped him grow a lot and how that would help you. How has this helped you grow with this team now that you have that experience and played in games?
Nesmith: It has definitely helped me grow every single day. It is proving me more and more who I am as a player and how I can play in this league. I just have to keep learning every day.
AllPacers: How has your chemistry and relationship with Rick [Carlisle] grown since you got here?
Nesmith: It has grown every single day. As soon as the trade was completed, Rick came in and believed that I was worthy. I’m just trying to earn my trust and play hard for a coach who believes in me and wants to make me great.
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AllPacers: You started today, but you’ve been with the second unit a lot even at times in this game. What do you think that group has done? Especially considering it’s been one the best teams this season.
Nesmith: We just do a good job of bringing energy off the bench, and I think that’s something that a lot of guys in this league take for granted. Many guys start the game from the bench very slowly. If we are energetic and just try to smash them from the jump, they will take a step back, and we decide how physical the game will be.
AllPacers: What players on this team have you grown close with in your time here? You obviously knew Daniel [Theis].
Nesmith: Everybody, everybody. James Johnson has taken me under his wing and is very supportive of me. T.J. McConnell has been a huge help to me. T.J. is a huge credit to me. He’s always there for me whenever I need him.
AllPacers: Is anybody funnier than James [Johnson]?
Nesmith: James is always cracking jokes!
AllPacers: I didn’t see every Celtics game, but it feels like you’re handling the ball more with this team than you did with them. What was the reasoning behind that? Did that make it a priority to grow with the team?
Nesmith: It’s just an expanding role. I have more to offer this team. I have more to do with this team. I will stay in my comfort zone, and I will continue to learn as the year progresses. I will be the best player I can be in the position that I hold.
AllPacers: Has your game prep or approach changed from Boston to this team at all?
Nesmith: Yes it has. Now that I know I play more than I did in the past, I have to prepare differently. So, I’m definitely improving and making sure that my mind is locked in every day.
AllPacers: How’s the foot? Is it just about pain? *Note, Nesmith was dealing with a plantar fascia issue at the time. *
Nesmith: Yeah, it’s just about pain tolerance.
AllPacers: What will it take for this team, at 1-2, to take a step forward as you go on this long road trip?
Nesmith: To play the way that we did in the second half today. Our offense will be determined by energy, defense, and defense. The offense became easy once we began to play hard defense. It’s crucial that we always put this first. Everything else will follow.
Nesmith will be next on the court against the Chicago Bulls.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.