There are only six players in the last decade that have scored 30 or more points in 21 or fewer minutes of action, and it's a pretty impressive list. Giannis Antetokounmpo only needed 21 minutes to erupt for 37 points against the lowly 2019-20 iteration of the Knicks. Paul George torched the 2019 Hawks to the tune of 37 points in 20 minutes. The Celtics' own Jaylen Brown put up 33 in only 19 minutes against the Cavaliers this past season. Rounding out the group are DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant and Domantas Sabonis. That's good company.
If summer league games counted, there'd be at least one more name to add to that group, though it's not someone quite as recognizable as those names: second-year sharpshooter Aaron Nesmith. On Tuesday night, the Vanderbilt product showed fans why he deserved to be a 2020 lottery pick by dropping 33 points in just under 21 minutes, ripping the net seven times in nine attempts from long range.
It was a great and encouraging bounce-back effort for Nesmith after he went only 1-8 from deep in the summer league opener earlier in the week. However, the true star in the small sample size of summer league action to this point has been not Nesmith but the fellow second-year talent who's feeding him — and holding his own from deep as well.
Payton Pritchard's the name, and balling out on the offensive end is his game. He added 21 points (4-5 3Pt.) to go along with 12 assists and eight rebounds against the Nuggets on Tuesday to add to his strong outing in the first game (23 points on 7-15 3Pt., five rebounds, five assists). It sure looks like Nesmith has competition as the best second-year long-range bomber that the Celtics have to offer — and that's never a bad title to have players competing for if you're the Boston front office.
Getting vast improvement from Nesmith and Pritchard from year one to year two will be vital in bringing the Celtics back to the top of the Eastern Conference, something the team hopes to do after a frustratingly tough 2020-21 campaign. It looks like a fellow Eastern Conference contender is experiencing similar second-year breakouts, though, which could further fuel an already-intense rivalry.