Karalis: Aaron Nesmith hustles his way to a role at the right time

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

When Aaron Nesmith checks into a basketball game, he's not stepping onto a basketball court.

He's stepping into his personal mosh pit.

The Boston Celtics rookie may have a reputation as a pure shooter, but his short NBA career has seen him shoot his body through the air more often than the ball through the hoop.

"To be honest, the other players are probably more in danger with Aaron flying around and throwing elbows and stuff," Jaylen Brown said after the Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night. "I worry more about who he might hurt rather than him hurting himself. I love Aaron."


It was hard not to love him after another high-flying, death-defying, performance that saw him hit the deck too many times to remember, but always pop up. To paraphrase the great Kevin Harlan, he seems to play with no regard for his own life.

“No, I definitely care. I definitely care, but I'm just going out there 110%," Nesmith said. "I know every team needs effort plays. Effort plays, 50/50 balls, you know, that's what wins ball games. And so I'm gonna go out there and I put my body on the line in order to make a play happen. But yeah, safety, safety is definitely something that I got to pay attention to.”

The Celtics hope Nesmith is someone worth paying attention to down this home stretch. They have been desperate for more bench help, and a more confident Nesmith can be part of the boost they need.

"I think the biggest challenge for Aaron was the speed of the game when he first got here," Brad Stevens said. "He’s played hard and he’s worked really hard at it. As he’s gotten more practice time and game minutes here, the difference between his play now and when we were putting him in in January and February is night and day. So it’s encouraging."

The work has been paying off, but not how we might have expected. Nesmith, like Romeo Langford last season, came in known exclusively for his offense. But slowly, Nesmith has been harnessing his energy and channeling it into big defensive plays