After all the fuss and worry at the start of the season, culminating in the firing of Steve Nash (and somehow not culminating in the Kevin Durant deal), the Brooklyn Nets got it .
What once seemed irreversible – Durant, Kyrie Irving who put one foot out the door after explicit trade request allegedly could be waived, Ben Simmons pays attention The other major contributors are showing their age – they got nominated instead. is one of the team of Despite the wobble in recent games without Durant, their 31-19 record is good enough to prepare the Eastern for the fourth seed in his conference.
Given the turmoil off the court, Irving, the main cause of concern, has been key to the turnaround. Finally, putting aside all the other drama that came to define his tenure with the team, putting aside a long run of good plays in a Nets uniform, he averaged 27.3 points per game for the season. . Kirie style. When he’s good, he’s great.
Durant is no different, returning to his best form at age 34, posting 29.7 points per game and a .673% true shooting percentage. For any player, his season is historic. For someone his age, it’s embarrassingly good.
For offense, the Nets primarily look to those two. But on defense, he leans on his third star, Nick Claxton, who has made such a label undeniable in his play so far.
So far this season, Claxton has averaged 13.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.7 blocks per game while shooting 74.1% from the field. His blocks and shooting percentage marks both lead the league, which in itself proves his significant influence on the game. However, when combined with his overall defensive impact, his importance to the team has yet to be recorded.
Specifically, its importance rests on Claxton’s ability to defend every area of the court and against every type of player. With his experience playing at the point guard position in high school, as well as his college experience at the University of Georgia, Claxton shuffles his feet faster than almost anyone else in his position. Combine this with his 6’11 frame and excellent length, and he’s a huge moving target that always seems to be in front no matter what matchup he’s in charge of.
What Claxton does as an individual allows the Nets to do as a team. The Nets deploy a team’s defensive philosophy that is highly switchable in all areas of the court. Part of that is by taking advantage of Durant’s relative agility in the ‘big’ forward spot, but it mostly relies on Claxton’s lateral speed. He covers the entire ground, hedges, heals, and appears to protect both lanes and lines at the same time.
Plus, he’s routinely tasked with doing it in clutch situations.Nets I want The team will, by design, go head-to-head with Claxton on the Star Isolation Scoring Wing. Pulling the switch is usually the offensive advantage. But Claxton’s range gives him an advantage. And as Joel Embiid has discovered, adding muscle to the frame without any noticeable loss of lateral speed makes him well-prepared to deal with conventional centers as well.
Offensively, though his shot chart proves that any mention of him possibly having some range early in his career is so far unsubstantiated. , his 47% free-throw strokes suggest this isn’t going to change anytime soon. Averaged 15.6 points a game in January, fluid movement, constant aerial threat, aggression on the offensive grass, and ease of dunking at the rim make him an option on all trips, plus his ability to dunk The finish has been greatly improved.
In addition to clever passing, transition rim runs, and screen-and-roll possession, Claxton has found ways to make the most of his offensive end while utilizing minimal dribbling. He may not have made enough of an offensive leap to overshadow Lauri Markkanen’s breakthrough performance in the Most Improved Player vote, but he’s running again. Lately, he’s been benched behind DeAndre Jordan for some reason, but Claxton is now the linchpin, and he’s one irreplaceable player on the NBA’s better teams.
For the entire season, the Nets are ranked 9th in the defensive rating, and Claxton is the bottom line. His Joakim Noah-esque influence creates defensive versatility across the team, and no one does it better than him. Incredibly efficient as a scorer with just a few touches, he compliments his two powerhouses brilliantly around him. Claxton said he will finish the season in 2022/23 and while he may not win an individual award, he is a player who at least deserves one.