3. Nic Claxton
Clax, just like Dinwiddie, has only played one of the Nets’ first three games, but his presence can be felt when he’s on the floor. The 24-year-old is the defensive anchor in Brooklyn and had three blocks in his season debut.
Unfortunately, Claxton sprained his ankle on this play, and the timetable for his return is unknown.
When healthy, Claxton is a contender for an NBA All-Defensive team, thanks to his elite rim protection and rebounding skills. In terms of offense, his role is limited, and he typically plays well off of the pick-and-roll. On a roster with few experienced centers, Clax’s strong defense is essential, as he can limit elite NBA bigs.
The Nets ranked 16th last season in defensive rating (113.5), and while that seems pretty average, it would’ve been much worse if Clax wasn’t on the floor. The 24-year-old is already trying to establish himself as a top-tier rim protector in the NBA and attempting to crack 10 rebounds per game for the first time in his career.