The list is alphabetical but the first name on 10 ESPN players “on the verge of penetration” It’s Nick Claxton. And if there was a list of players the Nets needed to count on, Claxton would be at the top of that list, too. So far, very good.
“His professionalism, I think, made a move,” coach Steve Nash said Wednesday. “His attention to detail and his consistency, I think you see the benefits. He looks like he can play for longer periods at a higher intensity. He’s a little stronger and more physical in traffic. We will continue to develop his understanding of the game and his awareness of situations.”
Claxton looked good in the first game, scoring 12 points on a 6-of-6 shot and accumulating four boards in 14 minutes. He admits that he loves the way he looks with his new haircut. No braids, no colours. It’s now more than just a buzz cut… natural, yes fresh.
“I just need a fresh start,” Claxton said. “And I dyed it blonde and spoiled it. I just wanted to get a new look.”
There will be a new look on the field as well. Claxton is starting Nets 5 for the first time in his career, now in his fourth year. Garrett Allen is gone. DeAndre Jordan is gone. LaMarcus Aldridge is gone. Blake Griffin is gone. Andre Drummond is gone. He was backed by sophomore Day Ron Sharp and veteran Marcus Morris who spent most of his career in the fourth. The Nets team, who enjoyed the idea of him trading Deadline last year, gave him a two-year guarantee, $17.5 million. Deal.
why not? Other than shooting 4 of 22 off the line, including 1 of 11 on the night, Claxton was one of the few bright lights in the Nets in Celtics Sweep the net in the first round of qualifying last year. He averaged 10.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in 24.5 minutes per game. Had he had the regular season free-throw percentage – 58.1% – the 23-year-old would have done better in nets. He has said that last season he was getting a lot of advice from a lot of people about getting shot. (Claxton didn’t hit the line in 1 vs. Sixers.)
Offensively, Claxton sees his role on this year’s team as keeping defenses honest… and taking advantage of having all those 3-point shooters in the perimeter.
“It would make my job a lot easier, just having those bowlers, teams wouldn’t be able to block the track as much,” Claxton said after Wednesday’s training. “Last year we had a few formations where we didn’t extend the floor either, but this year having these guys out there will open up the track and it’s going to be a one-on-one.”
It also appears that there was a chemical evolution between Claxton and Simmons. Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s game. A head-over pass from one 6’11-inch net to the other was supposed to keep Nets fans happy and upbeat.
As Matt Brooks noted in his film study Thursday, Nick Claxton is “very hungry” and will have plenty of opportunities.
“I like the way we’re playing on the attack right now,” Claxton said after training. Like Steve said, the ball doesn’t stick, we’re trying to get more movement. It’s going to make us more difficult to guard. We’ve got the talent and we’ve got good shooters.
“I just personally, try to make myself a threat as much as I can on the court, start a break and do what I’m doing. Keep building.”
Defensively, the requirements remain the same. It’s the ultimate converter, able to go from 1 to 5 easily and offers edge protection. While some fans think the Nets may not have a depth of 5, Sean Marks says he’s willing to give Claxton – and Sharpe – some time to establish their cases as legitimate.
“If you notice, you just look at their bodies, they have changed and matured. And again, I don’t know if there will be last minute changes. It’s a professional sport, things change very quickly,” Marks told Media Day. At the end of the day, I’m excited to give Nic and Day’Ron a chance out there and see how they perform.”