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Have they done it AGAIN? Nets ‘pleasantly, pleasantly surprised’ by Nic Claxton

Brooklyn Nets All-Access Practice Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The tallest player on the Nets, at least until after the Truth-in-Height measurements come out, is Nic Claxton, who was listed at a hair short of seven feet when he was officially measured back in May when he had just turned 20.

But unlike his teammates Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan, don’t expect Claxton to play the 5 and don’t expect him to have an immediate impact either. He’s more a 4 and will take some time.

That said, the second round pick has impressed the Nets, both his teammates and his head coach.

“How should I say this?” coach Kenny Atkinson told Greg Joyce of the Post Wednesday. “I’m very, very excited about Nic. I think we all understand he’s got to get stronger and needs experience, but the raw talent, we really have something to work with there. I’m pleasantly, pleasantly surprised.”

Jordan has paid him an even higher compliment. Claxton, he says, reminds him of another left-handed seven-footer who played his college ball in the state of Georgia.

“I love Nic,” Jordan said. “Nic kind of reminds me of Chris Bosh a little bit. He’s left-handed, he’s skilled. He can go inside and out. I think the sky’s the limit for him once he learns the game and becomes more of a student of the game, gets his body into the game. I think he’s gonna be great.”

And Dzanan Musa, who is the only Nets player younger than Claxton, offered his endorsement to our Chris Milholen on Media Day.

“Nic [Claxton] is a great talent,” Musa said. “I am telling you the ceiling is really high for him because he knows the game. He can shoot, he is fast, he understands how to be set up on the floor so he will be good in this league.”

So what does “Nic the Quick” (trademark pending) think about all the love? He claims his expectations for this year are modest.

“I’m just going to hoop, wherever I am,” said Claxton, who could make his debut in Friday’s preseason opener vs. Basquete Franca of Brazil. “Whether it’s Long Island or whether it’s in Brooklyn, I’m just going to do whatever I can to become better. At the end of the day, I know I’ll be here in the NBA to stay for a long time.”

Everyone knows he needs to get stronger but he has a guaranteed three-year deal (at $4.2 million.)

Not bad for the 31st pick. The Nets of course have a stellar record of finding diamonds in the rough in the NBA Draft and Claxton was a particularly savvy move. Claxton was selected for the Draft’s Green Room reserved for top prospects but kept dropping. He was mocked as high as No. 18 ... which is where the Nets had him on their board. Then he started to drop, for reasons yet to be explained.

With the Nets having the 27th pick and a desire to preserve cap space, traded away the late first, taking a bit of a risk that no one would take Claxton at No. 28, 29 and 30 and leave him available at 31. It worked. One of the things that appealed to Brooklyn’s front office was that Claxton, the son of an NBA player, played point guard in high school. A 7-footer with a 7’3” wingspan, good handles and a serviceable three. What’s not to like?

“I’ve definitely gotten a lot stronger,” Claxton told Joyce. “It’s not all just throwing a whole bunch of weight on me at one time, but working on my core strength, working on my legs, just overall strength, making sure I’m sticking to that. The sky’s the limit for me.”