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Kenny Atkinson on Nic Claxton: ‘I feel comfortable throwing him in there’

Philadelphia 76ers vs Brooklyn Nets: NBA Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Nic Claxton was featured this week in what is basically his hometown newspaper, the Virgin Island Daily News. Matt Schoch spoke with the 20-year-old as well as Kenny Atkinson and Jarrett Allen about his progress and talent which have become increasingly evident in recent weeks.

“He’s gotten stronger already,” Atkinson said. “It’s got to the point where I feel comfortable throwing him in there.”

And, added Atkinson, he’s willing to use his near seven-footer at the power forward as well as center.

“Definitely he can play both positions, so I can feel comfortable doing that,” Atkinson said.

So far, Claxton has played all his minutes —183 so far— at the 5. Atkinson has yet to pair his three bigs together. He thinks Claxton could play the stretch 4 if he gains strength and improves his deep shooting.

“Big-time potential,” Atkinson said of the Greenville, S.C. native who played for U.S. Virgin Islands in FIBA competition. “That’s what I see. I see a guy that as young as he is, as green as he is, he can play in an NBA game, he can contribute.”

“He’s gotten stronger already,” he added.

Earlier this month, Claxton filled in for the injured DeAndre Jordan and showed his considerable potential ... and confidence, In two games, he scored 29 points in 36 minutes, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked three shots and shot 13-of-20 overall, hitting his first NBA three-pointer.

“It’s all about timing man, just going out there and being aggressive,” Claxton said. “Just taking what the defense gives you, doesn’t matter how old you are, just building that confidence. Playing your game, can’t get too caught up with everything that’s going on out there.”

“He’s come along great,” Allen said. “The confidence was always there, we’ve all seen the type of talent that he has. Now that he’s getting minutes in the NBA, he’s able to show it against a higher level.

“One, I’m super happy for him. And two, I know he’s going to keep it up.”

As Schoch writes, while Claxton has shot only 1-of-7 from deep, he’s hit 2-of-5 while playing in the G League with Long Island. In fact, Jordan earlier this season compared Claxton to Chris Bosh with his inside-outside potential.

He still has a ways to go in lot of areas, as Claxton readily admitted to Schoch.

“Slowly but surely,” Claxton told Schoch on Saturday, when asked about his development. “I’ve still got a long way to go. It’s just confidence and repetition and staying in the gym. That’s something I continue to work on.”

He also recalled what his father, a former pro baller with the Celtics and various overseas teams, advised him.

“Just stay confident. Never get too high, never get too low,” Claxton said. “That’s huge, especially because it’s a whirlwind really, so you’ve just got to stay the course.”

  • Claxton getting comfortable as Nets call rookie’s number - Matt Schoch - Virgin Island Daily News