It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for Nic Claxton, the near 7-foot forward the Nets drafted out of Georgia at No. 31 on June 20.
“It’s been a movie, honestly,” Claxton told Tom Dowd of the Nets official website. “It’s been crazy. Just every day I’ve just been working. I was in Brooklyn, went back home for a couple of days and came out to Vegas so now we’re just out here in Vegas trying to get some wins.”
That movie, as he calls it, also included him watching as two of the game’s biggest stars joined the club ... Not to mention that his coach sees a bit of Chris Bosh in him. And oh yeah, he signed a three-year, $4.2 million contract, all guaranteed.
“It’s been crazy,” said Claxton. “I didn’t even imagine Kyrie and KD coming to join Brooklyn this year the way it happened. It’s really going to be a blessing to play alongside those players and get some of their knowledge from them, DeAndre Jordan being a big guy. So it’ll be fun and I’ll be ready to work.”
Join the club, Nic.
So far, the 20-year-old has done well in Las Vegas. After a two-point debut, Claxton has had a couple of good games with some highlights attached. He’s played 15.8 minutes per game, averaging 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 61 percent (11-18).
And here’s some of the highlights.
Despite the monumental change, Claxton says he’s happy, if not satisfied, with his progress.
“It’s been cool,” said Claxton. “I’m still getting acclimated to everything honestly. It’s going to be a process. The game speed, it’s a lot faster. I’m still adjusting to that, but slowly but surely it’s been a process but it’s helping me. It’s cool to see the players on the roster coming back to support us during Summer League.”
Indeed several of the Nets roster players have been in the stand, including Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and newly acquired Taurean Prince. Minority owner Joe Tsai and his wife Clara Wu Tsai have sat courtside as well. More importantly, Claxton has received support from a roster player on the court.
“It’s been good,” said Claxton. “He’s been giving me a lot of different pointers. Just telling me certain things like when to cover from help side to help out the guards and things like that. It’s been nice having him being that role model for me.”
Claxton, in fact, fits the same mold as Allen, what Kenny Atkinson calls a modern NBA center, one that is mobile, athletic and can step out and hit the three. Claxton have surprised some with his ball-handling and three point shooting, but that’s only if you didn’t know his background ... or his father.
“I played point guard up until I think the eighth grade,” Claxton told Dowd. “The summer from my ninth grade summer until my 10th grade school year I grew from 6’2” to 6’7”. So then I naturally transitioned into being more of a wing. I continued to sprout up so then I gradually became a forward, center type.”
And he had a mentor in the house. His father, Charles, was a 7-foot center at Georgia, a second round draft pick. He only had a cup of coffee in the NBA, playing three games with the Celtics in 1995 before heading overseas.
“My dad, he didn’t force me to play basketball, me or any of my siblings,” said Claxton. “It was more of a natural thing. I kind of fell in love with the game around second grade. Basketball has played a huge role in my life for as long as I can remember, and he’s been there for me every step of the way.
“He would always tell me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear. Him being that role model for me, and he was my coach up until the eighth grade, so him being that role model for me has always been big.”
Charles Claxton said at the rookie introduction press conference that he hadn’t played against his son in several years, noting the last time he did, he tore a hamstring.
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