While the 2020 NBA Draft hasn’t come with the usual hype and fanfare of past drafts because of the lack of star prospects, there will always be players who turn out to be the proverbial ‘diamond in the rough’ or ‘draft sleeper.’
If you’re to believe former NBA star Jerry Stackhouse, one such player is former Vanderbilt wing Aaron Nesmith.
Stackhouse, who was Nesmith’s head coach at Vanderbilt, was one of the league’s stars at the turn of the millennium. A 1996 All-Rookie selection (Michael Jordan was the Rookie of the Year), “Stack” would go on to earn two All-Star selections and earn a reputation as one of the league’s top scorers.
All that noted, while career accolades and a lengthy NBA career don’t mean that you’re a great evaluator of talent, Stackhouse’s belief in Nesmith’s All-Star potential is valuable.
“We compare him to Khris Middleton,’’ Stackhouse told Marc Berman of the New York Post in an email Sunday. “He’s perfect for the wing spot. He has the size. He has the strength and in addition to being a shooter, he is dedicated to the defensive side as well.”
Nesmith’s length, shooting prowess and defensive upside do compare favorably to Milwaukee Bucks guard-forward Middleton. Middleton has been named an All-Star for two consecutive season and has consistently developed as a playmaker. He’s now recognized as one of the league’s best two-way players.
Similar to Middleton, the 21-year-old Charleston native made quite the jump in his sophomore season, averaging 23.0 points per game for Vandy while shooting .522 from deep on 8.2 3-point attempts per game.
“He’s a competitor,” Stackhouse said. “He doesn’t take shortcuts.”
Nesmith is projected to be a lottery pick and he could go within the top-10, especially with the difficulty in ranking this season’s prospects.
However, whether Nesmith shows himself to be a mirror image of Middleton (drafted 39th overall), an elite three-and-D player like Klay Thompson (drafted 11th overall) or just a player similar to Danny Green (drafted 46th overall), the team that drafts him should be confident in his potential to eventually be an All-Star player.