The Brooklyn Nets have shuffled their rotations after the additions of Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge on the buyout market. With DeAndre Jordan all but removed from the lineup, Nicolas Claxton has also had to take on a reduced role.
Claxton has averaged 7.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Those numbers essentially double when looking at his per 36 minutes averages. Claxton has shown plenty on both ends of the floor, but that didn’t stop him from riding the pine in a loss to Nets killer Nikola Vucevic and the Chicago Bulls.
In Brooklyn’s disappointing loss, Steve Nash played Claxton for just eight minutes, while Griffin and Aldridge, both of whom started, totaled 22 and 26 minutes respectively. Making Claxton ride the pine makes no sense, especially when Vucevic thoroughly dominated Brooklyn’s bigs for most of that contest.
Nash has been incredibly two-faced when describing Claxton in recent weeks. On one hand, he’s mentioned that he might be the best defender on a team without a ton of standouts in that department, but he also focused on the need to “develop him at the right pace.”
Developing him doesn’t mean putting him on the bench for most of the game.
The Brooklyn Nets need to get Nicolas Claxton more minutes.
The concerns about the Griffin and Aldridge signings weren’t related to their offense, even after the former’s struggles in Detroit. The Nets lacked interior defense, and they “solved” that problem by signing two poor interior defenders.
Because of their offensive skill, and perhaps their name recognition, Aldridge and Griffin have earned roles in the Nets rotation. Claxton is getting pushed to the side despite the fact he can guard essentially every position on the floor, handle the ball, and finish at the rim.
Benching Griffin, Aldridge, or Jeff Green to make room for Claxton would be downright silly, but Nash has to figure out ways to get him in the game. On a team that plays as fast as possible, has more than enough offensive talent to go around, and is still lacking with regard to their perimeter and interior defense, only giving Claxton a handful of minutes is egregious.
Griffin has a defined role on offense for this team, and Aldridge has proven he can be a fine addition to the depth chart, but the Nets shouldn’t just stick Claxton on the bench if it means that these two veterans will get more run. Claxton has quickly become indispensable, and there is no reason that he should be stuck on the bench.