Should Nic Claxton be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year?

Throughout his career, Nic Claxton has proven to be a solid big man. However, to say he has reached another level this year would be an understatement. In June of 2019, Claxton was selected 31st overall by the Brooklyn Nets, in hopes that he would become their new and permanent, big man.

In his senior year of college, Claxton averaged 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game. He also became the fourth player in his school’s history to record 1,000 points. Following his high school career, Claxton was a three-star recruit and chose to play for Georgia. His other options included Baylor, Florida State, NC State, and South Carolina.

He would go on to play at Georgia for two years before registering for the NBA Draft. In his first year, Claxton played 32 games but only started in five of them. Not his best year, but he would turn it up a notch in 2018-19 when he started in all 32 games that he played in. He averaged 13 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and really came into his own.

His first few seasons with the Nets weren’t the best, to say the least. However, this season, everything has seemed to have been turned up to the next level for Claxton. This leads to the next question, should Claxton be in the running for the Defensive Player of the Year?

Does Nic Claxton have a case to be in the Defensive Player of the Year contention?

“I feel that I am one of the best defenders in the league,” said Claxton last December. “I feel I should be in the talk for the Defensive Player of the Year. I feel like I wasn’t getting the respect I deserve. We’re winning, my numbers are good protecting the rim, guarding 1 through 5.”

To be honest, he isn’t wrong in the slightest. Claxton has been on an absolute tear this year. Claxton is second in the league in blocks-per-game with 2.6 and leads the entire NBA with a field goal percentage of 72.2%.

He is currently 18th in rebounds per game, averaging nine. Claxton has also picked up 21 double-doubles this year, showing that he is not only great on defense, but he’s a force on offense for Brooklyn as well. His stats this year have shown a lot of improvement, and he certainly has a case to be made this year in being the Defensive Player of the Year.