No. 31 pick: Nicolas Claxton
Jarrett Allen is currently the only big on the Brooklyn Nets roster, so they desperately needed to add a frontcourt player in this draft. Furthermore, they needed to find a high-energy center to replace impending free agent Ed Davis.
Nicolas Claxton has one of the best motors in the 2019 draft class and is relentless on both ends of the floor. His head coach at Georgia, Tom Crean, spent the days leading up to the draft campaigning for Claxton to hear his name called sooner rather than later.
Not only did Crean rave about Claxton’s work ethic, but he also praised the sophomore’s defensive versatility:
It’s rare than bigs Claxton’s size can switch onto guards and competently defend them, but the former Bulldog was one of the more athletic centers in the nation and has extremely quick feet. Claxton is also a terrific help defender and led the SEC with 2.5 blocks per game in 2018-19.
Offensively, he draws fouls at a high rate (6.0 free throw attempts per game) and can make plays for himself and his teammates out of the post. However, Claxton must improve as a shooter.
He doesn’t have great form, shooting just 64.1 percent from the free throw line as a sophomore and only 28.1 percent on 3-pointers. Like his new frontcourt mate, Jarrett Allen, Claxton’s ability to knock down shots will ultimately determine his ceiling at the next level.
While there were bigger names left on the board, the Nets must be happy to add a high-upside, high-energy player at a position of need in the second round. Claxton should be Brooklyn’s backup center in 2019-20 and is athletic enough on defense to potentially be paired with Allen for short stretches.