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What’s popping on Air-Ball

Aaron Nesmith


There’s no doubt that so far in a Celtics uniform, Aaron Nesmith hasn’t lived up to the hype of the 14th selection. Billed as a shooter coming out, the 32.6 per cent he’s at right now just isn’t good enough. However, despite his slow start and especially early on times of looking lost, but slowly and surely he’s making me a fan. This past week I watched most of three Celtic games, working to get a feeling for what’s wrong in Boston. In doing so, I saw a ton of Nesmith and I came away impressed. As I said, his percentages are far from ideal and his counting numbers leave a lot to be desired yet, he commits. The Celtics broadcast has a thing called “Tommy points” in honour of Tommy Heinsohn who recently passed away. Essentially, a Tommy point is an extra effort type play that helps the team. I’m sure if someone calculated Tommy points this week for the Celtics, Nesmith would’ve led them. He’s constantly diving on the ground, flying out of bounds and just getting his hands in and around the ball. It’s no surprise to me that as a result, Nesmith’s playing time was way up this last week as his effort is giving Brad Stevens more confidence. He also in the last five shot 35.7 per cent from three and for a guy who shot 52.2 per cent last year from distance that’ll come. I know it’s disappointing seeing guys like Saddiq Bey play well when they could’ve been Celtics but give Nesmith time. His first year at Vandy was tough as well. We have to remember these rookies went months without playing basketball, got drafted and in Nesmith’s case was hurt and didn’t even get a preseason or training camp. With guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown playing so well, I get the stress. All I’m saying is give Danny Ainge time on this pick before you crush him because with how hard he plays, I’m willing to bet Nesmith finds his stride at some point soon in the NBA. 

Deni Avdija 


Deni Avdija is such a fun prospect to try and project. On one hand, the shooting is inconsistent and he’s an okay at best athlete. On the other though, he’s an underrated passer, his handle is improving and most importantly, he has a unique fire to him. Maybe it’s from his Israeli upbringing or maybe it’s the classic Serbian intensity but this dude competes. I remember watching his Euroleague games last year getting ready for the draft and multiple times seeing him get into it with some much older veteran. He has this fearlessness to him that we saw last night in Staples Center. I assure you, no one who watched him compete in his pre-NBA career was surprised to see him make those shots in overtime against the defending champions. I don’t know if Avdija has the athletic gifts that are usually required to be an NBA star. Similarly, with the fluctuation of his shooting game to game and the at times looseness of his handle, he has a long way to go to build the skill required to make up for lesser athleticism in a bid to be a star. With all that said though, the way he competes and being around known workers like Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, I wouldn’t be shocked if he developed a ton in Washington. Even if he doesn’t though, I’d be willing to wager a significant amount on him being a key player in some big playoff moments. He just has a way about him that screams made for the big moment. This season has been weird as can be with how COVID-19 shut down his and his team’s season so maybe the shooting will hit a groove as he plays more games. For now though, Wizards fans should be excited to watch a kid ready to fight every time he steps on the court.  

Malachi Flynn

2020-21 Season:226634.420.87.717.30.44237.30.4091.820.9170.
G-League Stats
NBA Stats

Now I’m not one to normally criticize the way the Toronto Raptors develop players. In fact, I would argue they’re right there with Miami as the best team in the league at it. However, right now, they’re falling into the dumb crux many NBA teams fall into. Instead of allowing rookie Malachi Flynn to continue to tear up the G-League, they called him back up to the big team. I mean understandable right, he was averaging over 20 points and 5.5 assists on great efficiency. The thing is though, since they’ve called him up he’s played 20 minutes TOTAL and has a DNP. Like let him play in the G-League, destroy some people and build some confidence. Look at Fred VanVleet. FVV needed that seasoning in the G-League so year two he was ready to play. I get that the Kyle Lowry injury has messed up the roster and they’re short on guards but honestly, just sign some random veteran if you don’t actually need him to play. Time and again we see these NBA teams lose faith in their rookies and have them just sit on the bench, killing their confidence. Then when they need them, they just throw them in. Inevitably, they often suck like Flynn has most of this year because they have no rhythm at all and you basically waste their entire season as a chicken in the egg of what killed their confidence first, themselves not being ready or the organization not giving them consistent run. Either way, the entire point of the G-League is to give young players a chance to improve in game settings. If it wasn’t necessary and they could only do it in practice like football then there wouldn’t be a league yet here there is one, currently playing games as we speak. But here Flynn is ruining whatever confidence he had built up down in Orlando, shooting one of six and getting no real fair opportunity. Some want to blame Nick Nurse but if he doesn’t think Flynn is ready to help him win games then I won’t judge him since that’s his job. This should be management’s job to step in and be like hey, we invested a first-round pick on this guy so let’s do whatever we can to maximize his season. However, they won’t. Instead they’re going to make the mistake so many of these NBA teams and force him to ride the pine and try and learn by watching. I sure hope he’s a visual learner. 


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