By Sydney Gibbs
In the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft, the Brooklyn Nets selected breakout star, University of Georgia’s Nicolas Claxton to fill their power forward position.
The Nets picked up a fluid athlete who has exceptional technique and basketball IQ. His strong frame fits well with the Net’s organization and he will be in perfect hands with the Nets’ head coach, Kenny Atkinson.
After serving as a backup his freshmen year and averaging 3.9 points per game. He came out his sophomore season and made a name for himself in the South Eastern Conference. Claxton averaged 13.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. The drastic improvement he made from year one to year two resulted in him being named to the All-SEC Second Team and proved his readiness for the NBA.
He stands just under 7-feet tall at 6’11” with a 7-2.5 wingspan. His explosiveness on the defensive end of the floor and the points he can score in the paint is just what Brooklyn needs. He is quite similar to Nets’ center Jarrett Allen in terms of size, physicality, and defensive ability but Allen hasn’t developed into an offensive weapon inside the post the way that Claxton already has.
Claxton is a lot more versatile than most guys his size. He has tremendous ball handling skills almost like he is a guard. He can defend every position and that is a very valuable skill to have considering the talent he’ll be going up against at the next level.
Defenses switch on almost every ball screen and Claxton is the best switchable big man in this year’s draft. It’s rare to find a player that size or any size of that matter that can defend 1-5.
He can defend anywhere on the court but he’s much more useful on the inside instead of on the perimeter. He was at the top of the SEC with 2.1 blocks per game. The Brooklyn Nets should be elated that they have solid rim protection with Claxton and Allen on their rosters. Having Claxton in the frontcourt could transform this Nets team for the better.
He’s phenomenal on the defensive end but is still very raw offensively. Under the Nets management, they’ll develop him and mold those skills he shows as a scorer and playmaker into a spine-chilling offensive player. But to do that, he’ll also need to add some muscle to compete with the forcefulness of the NBA.
The Nets are locked and loaded for next season and plenty more seasons after that. After adding Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan to the roster, the Nets have clearly solidified their campaign for Kings of the East. Durant will be out for the entirety of next season so Claxton will have the opportunity to shape himself into a quality power forward/center.
The culture the Nets organization have built over the years is impeccable. It’s the place to be for a player to develop and further his skills. Just look at D’Angelo Russell, Joe Harris, Caris Levert, and others. None of those guys are the same type of player they were 2-3 years ago, they’re better. Under that system, Claxton will improve to be an illuminating force to reckon with.