Luckily since Clax has been on the roster for a few years I won’t have to write up his background. However, I will give you his counting stats for all his seasons in Brooklyn to give you just an understanding of where Clax is at currently as a player:
Age 20: 15 Games Played 12.5 Minutes 4.4 Points 1.1 Assist 2.9 Rebounds 0.5 Blocks 56/14/52 Shooting
Age 21: 32 (1 start) Games Played 18.6 Minutes 6.6 Points 0.9 Assist 5.2 Rebounds 1.3 Blocks 62/20/48 Shooting
Age 22: 47 (19 starts) Games Played 20.7 Minutes 8.7 Points 0.9 Assist 5.6 Rebounds 1.1 Blocks 67/0/58 Shooting
Age 23: 76 (All starts) Games Played 29.9 Minutes 12.6 Points 1.9 Assist 9.2 Rebounds 2.5 Blocks 70 (Holy shit) /0/54 Shooting
Based on traditional offensive and defensive stats we can really see a few things. Firstly he has improved every single season as a finisher. Points have increased and his FG% has gone up to the point where he led the league last season in %. Along with this his rebounding and rim protection has continued to improve as well.
The important thing from these traditional counting stats is we see a continued level of improvement every season, which is exactly what you want from a young developing player.
So now let’s talk about his impact metrics last season!
Claxton has the following impact metrics on the offensive end:
69% (Nice) True shooting
Offensive rebound rate of 9.3%
Offensive win shares of 5.2
Offensive box plus minus of 0.96
PER of 20.8
Lastly a free throw rate of .419
These stats indicate the following from Claxton last season; he was extremely efficient as a scorer this is indicated by his true shooting and PER. On top of that he was adding positive value on offense every game giving us a 5.2 win share rate, and a positive box plus minus. So Claxton although admittedly is a limited offensive player, he is still without a doubt adding positive value on that side of the ball.
Let’s look at how Clax is typically getting his points.
67% of Claxtons points are coming from 0-3 feet from the rim, and 30% are coming from 3-10 feet from the rim. This means that 97% of his shot attempts are coming inside the paint. Along with this 76% of his FGs are assisted. Based on this stat we can assume most of Claxtons points are coming off of the pick and roll, or dunker spot dump off passes. Clax also had 191 dunks which is near the league lead.
So based on these stats how can we assume Claxton will contribute offensively this upcoming season.
Firstly lets’s talk about what he will do and not what he should do. I would expect Clax to have a stat line potentially of around:
14 PPG, 1 Assist, 10 Rebounds, 2 Blocks while shooting 65/25/60
I would also expect him to play around 32 minutes a game and start every game. The question with Claxton in a negative sense is; can he play with Simmons on the court?, and can he improve his free throw shooting?
Now let’s see those:
First off the free throw shooting. Claxton can become a much better free shooter based on the following, first; his free 5 in the following months was, April - 72%, March 67%, February 57%. This indicates that he was on an upward trajectory as a free throw shooter last season before the playoffs.
Second is his shooting motion. Last season we saw Clax have a serious hitch in his free throw form, which was comically and often caught players confused.
However looking at his form this off season he has much more of a fluid motion, less hitch at the top and it appears to be coming more naturally to him.
So with a potentially improved free throw form this season the next question is can he play with Ben Simmons?
This is more of a question with Simmons. If Ben can play to his Philly standard, and attack sags while consistently moving on offense I believe they can. Simmons was not able to do this last year consistently, and the numbers with both them on the court. The only numbers I could find was a 13 game sample last season around December (Which coincides with that one stretch Simmons was actually good). Together they had a 122 offensive rating and a 102 defensive rating. Which is an unreal split.
Not only this Claxton is shooting 3s in the off season! Which whenever centres do that we all get excited…
Where can he improve on offense this year?
For me the only improvements really are his potential 3 point shot, and free throw shooting, AND offensive rebounding. If Claxton can improve his offensive rebounding to a higher rate (he was around league average last season) , combining that with his unreal paint finishing is a scary thought.
Now that we’ve touched on where Clax is on offense and where he can improve this season let’s talk about where he makes his money, defense.
Claxtons defensive stats last season were remarkably good. He had the following stats:
Steal rate of 1.4%
Block rate of 7.1% 99th percentile in the league
Defensive win shares of 4.0
Defensive box plus minus of 2.2
Defensive rating of 108.2
Points per 100 possessions with him on the court - 112.9 that was 4 point difference for when he’s off the court.
eFG% of 51.9%
Claxton defends at a 44% at the rim, this means he is contesting shots at the rim 44 % of the time that is in the 84 percentile in the league.
He is defending the rim at a difference of 8.3% which means he is defending the rim at a 93rd percentile in the NBA.
2.7 deflections per game 80th percentile
Now what does this all mean? Claxton is an absolutely unreal rim protection big man. He is near the top in all NBA metrics in terms of impacting the game defensively at the rim. On top of that he holds up well on switches with his 1.4% steal rate and high rate of deflections.
Where can Claxton improve this season? Defensive rebounding, he is a skinny long centre so naturally he won’t be able to bang with the big boys as much. But, he desperately needs to work on his positioning. The Nets always struggle to rebound and Claxton needs to be huge on that end. This can also be a coaching situation as well, often Clax switches and is moved away from the basket. I'd like us to try to pre swtich or not switch Claxton as much to try and keep him closer to the basket for rebounding and rim protection reasons.
Overall the reason this part will be short is Claxton is already an unreal defender he just needs to continue to make his improvements he is already making to become an even better defender for the Nets this season.
Some defensive highlights are fun! https://twitter.com/NetsKingdomAJ/status/1635010227044220928
I would expect the starting lineup as following:
Simmons, Dinwiddie, Bridges, Johnson, Claxton
I think the best lineup for Claxton is:
Dinwiddie, Royce, Bridges, Johnson, Claxton
Shooting all around him, 4 potential ball handlers to run PNR with and mobile on defense to cover ground.
The most fun potential lineup is:
Simmons, DSJ, Bridges, DFS, Claxton
Just an absurdly fun defensive lineup that would probably not score over 70 points but would be awesome for small 5 minute bursts.
I would expect Claxton to continue his general improvement as a player. I think as Bridges elevatesso will Claxton and I would expect another stellar season from the 23 year old. The question mark again as it is for most aspects of this team is how can Claxton play with a potentially rejuvenated Ben Simmons? Will have to wait and see…