Nicolas Claxton is getting a lot thrown at him as he starts his professional basketball career.
Claxton, who played at Georgia, has three games under his belt as a member of the Nets at the Las Vegas Summer League. The forward/center is showing some versatility. He stepped into a bigger role Monday during a game against the Wizards with last year’s first-round pick Jarrett Allen sitting out. In an 88-85 win, Claxton had 12 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes. He totaled six points and six rebounds in his first two games.
“I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable out there,” Claxton said. “It’s our third game and things are starting to slow down for me.
“There is a lot of stuff being thrown at me right now, which is a good thing because that’s what a basketball player should ask for. They’ve but me in a lot of different positions and I’m starting to thrive.”
Claxton is playing power forward and center for the Nets. He started the second half Monday at center. He had a put-back dunk, a drive down the middle the lane and hook shot in the lane among makes in all six of his field goal attempts.
Claxton was the first pick of the second round in last month’s NBA draft.
“I think he’s got incredible instincts,” Nets assistant and summer league coach Adam Harrington said. “He’s a guy at Georgia who played multiple positions. I think offensively and defensively, he has great instincts. His length, we like to switch with him and keep smaller guys in front of us. That’s a big advantage for him and it’s a big advantage for us.”
Claxton, 6-foot-11, 215 pounds, entered the draft after two seasons at Georgia. He averaged 13.0 points, 8.6 points, 2.5 blocks, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals as he started all 32 games. He was All-SEC Second Team last season and ranked 10th nationally in blocked shots.
In the Nets’ system, big men are still required to spread the floor and shoot the 3-pointer. Several times on Monday, Claxton ran to spot up for a corner 3-pointer. He didn’t take a long-range chance and he’s just 0-of-1 this summer. Claxton knows it’s part of his game that will be needed.
Still, Claxton said he knows he will earn his playing time with his defensive ability, a part of his game he called his “staple.”
Claxton had several pre-NBA draft workouts, including one with the Hawks.
“I kind of had an idea of the teams that were interested in picking me,” Claxton said. “Brooklyn was high up. I really, really liked Brooklyn. They were one of my favorite teams that I worked out for, so getting drafted by Brooklyn was an amazing experience.”
Now with a professional contract, Claxton intends to sign a lease on an apartment. No need for a car in Brooklyn, so he will skip that for now. However, know there will be new clothes.
“I’ll get a new wardrobe for sure,” Claxton said.
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