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Nic Claxton to Mike Scotto: ‘I can be one of the best two-way players in the league’

Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

On the same day Hoopshype did a 2019 re-draft showing Nic Claxton should’ve been a lottery pick, Clax tells the website’s Mike Scotto, “I think I can be one of the best two-way players in the league in the right time and system.”

It was the latest comment by a supremely confident Claxton that he’s backed up with his on-court resume’. As Scotto notes, Claxton leads the NBA in field goal percentage (73.2%) and shot blocking (2.7 per game) as well as second in block percentage (8.1%) and defensive rating (106.7) per Basketball-Reference.

And it’s just one quote from the interview, conducted before the Nets lost to the Thunder Sunday night, that will make headlines. Claxton who previously said he should be in “the talk” for Defensive Player of the Year went further with Scotto, saying point-blank he should be the DPOY!

“I think I should be No. 1. I’m defending one through five and neck and neck as the leading shot blocker,” said Claxton. “I’m doing everything on the defensive end for the team anchoring the defense every single night. I think I should be right there. Definitely.”

Just like his defensive prowess, Claxton’s well-rounded game is becoming more and more evident. On Sunday night, he finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.

“I don’t like to put a ceiling on myself, but I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface right now. I think I can be one of the best two-way players in the league in the right time and system. I’ll continue to work on my game, which I’ll continue to do in the summer and continue to grow.”

Indeed, as well as blocking — or deterring — shots, Hoopshype is breaking out as an explosive big man who finishes everything around the rim from fast breaks to putbacks to a nascent hook by either hand, even an occasional Euro-step. He believes that even his free-throw shooting is improving.

“It’s coming along. It’s definitely a work in progress. I’m working on having the same technique every time, so if I miss, I know where I made the mistake and be more focused when I go up there,” he told Scotto. “I’ve got to continue to get my reps in every single day. That’s a big part of my game I need to continue to improve.”

But his calling card, his entree to being what he wants to become is his defense and yes, that confidence, which is driven in large part by the Nets decision to give him the starting slot after having play behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre’ Drummond last season.

“I’d say my overall confidence. I think experience is the best teacher. Being out there and knowing that the starting spot is mine and not worrying about making mistakes. I’m playing without fouling and really being a menace on the defensive side of the ball. I’ve been watching film, and I’ve been able to take some big strides out there,” he said.

Claxton also spoke about playing with stars like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving ... and helping their offense.

“I definitely don’t take it for granted being able to play with two of the best scorers to ever play basketball. I’ve had to find my niche within playing with those guys,” Claxton told Hoopshype. “I can’t just go out there dribbling the ball up the court and taking threes. I’ve had to find a role and star in that. As you see, it’s been finishing around the rim and setting picks, and taking advantage of opportunities when I can drive. Defensively, guarding.”

As for his future, Claxton says he wants to stay healthy. “When I’m on the court, I’m productive. Everything else will work itself out wherever it may be. Let the chips fall where they may.”

In the Hoopshype re-draft, Claxton was pegged at No. 12, 19 places higher than he was taken three and a half years ago.

If we do another 2019 re-draft in five years, there’s a chance Nicolas Claxton finishes even higher on the list, as he is only just now starting to break out as an explosive big man who finishes everything around the rim and can block shots on defense or switch when asked to. One of the league’s best shot-blockers already, Claxton has a lot of upside to keep growing for the Brooklyn Nets.

Nets fans sure do.