Brooklyn Nets add rim protector in project Nicolas Claxton at No. 31 overall

Brooklyn Nets Nicolas Claxton (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Nicolas Claxton (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets addressed their need for another rim protector in the 2nd round of Thursday’s NBA Draft, taking Georgia’s Nicolas Claxton.

After trading out of the first round Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets added some size with the first pick in the second round by taking 7-footer Nicolas Claxton from the University of Georgia.

Claxton will address the Nets’ desire to add another rim protector as well as more size. Assuming he stays with Brooklyn this season, he becomes the tallest player on the roster.

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As far as rim protection goes, few were better in college basketball last season. Claxton led the Southeastern Conference in blocked shots at 2.5 per game and made significant strides in his sophomore season at Georgia.

After playing primarily as a reserve during his freshman season, averaging 3.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 14.7 minutes per game, Claxton made a quantum leap forward in 2018-19 for the Bulldogs.

He started all 32 games for Georgia, averaging 13.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.1 steals in 31.6 minutes per game while earning All-SEC second-team honors for a team that finished just 2-16 in conference play.

Claxton shot 46 percent overall and stretched his range a bit, shooting 28.1 percent on 2.5 3-point attempts per game, while shooting 64.1 percent at the foul line.

Claxton does have a bit of a funky shot release that will need to be tweaked (likely beginning in the Summer League under player development coach Adam Harrington) and at just 217 pounds, he will need to add a lot of strength to his 7-foot frame.

His father, Charles Claxton, was a 7-foot, 265-pound center from the University of Georgia that played three games for the Boston Celtics early in the 1995-96 season after he was taken in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in the 1994 NBA Draft.

The Nets have found value in the second round under Sean Marks, most notably with 2018 second-round pick Rodions Kurucs, who was expected to be a developmental prospect who wound up starting 46 games as a rookie.

Claxton could contribute this season (and may have to if Ed Davis departs in free agency), but he is likely to be a work in progress in 2018-19.

But he has some stretch potential with an adequate low-post offensive game and solid passing instincts. Claxton will need to be hungrier as an offensive player, as he could hit some passive stretches.

But he’s already a solid defender and terrific shot blocker who can provide rim protection when Jarrett Allen is off the floor.

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As for what to expect from him as a rookie, he’ll likely spend some time getting minutes at Long Island in the G-League while getting an opportunity to provide some backup minutes at the 5 in Brooklyn as well.