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Zach Lowe calls Nic Claxton the Brooklyn Nets’ “unsung hero”

The Brooklyn Nets are near the top of the East thanks in part to the underrated Nic Claxton.
Brooklyn Nets forward Nic Claxton

Nic Claxton

The Brooklyn Nets have turned things around after a disastrous start to the season. They have won eight of their last 11 games thanks to strong performances from stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, another hero has emerged in Brooklyn - Nic Claxton.

Analyst Zach Lowe recently heaped praises on the young big man for the body of work he has delivered this campaign, calling him the team's "unsung hero." According to Lowe, Claxton has been instrumental in unlocking lineups that can help Brooklyn put up respectable defense and rebounding.

Defensive anchor

Despite all the drama surrounding the franchise, the fourth-year pro has provided the Nets with needed consistency. While the spotlights are typically on Durant, Irving, and Ben Simmons, Claxton has been a dependable anchor for Brooklyn, particularly on defense. He has shown the ability to cover both big men and smaller players.

And opponents have shot inefficiently from the field whenever they are guarded by Claxton in recent contests.

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Claxton's defensive stats have also displayed how well of a defender the University of Georgia product has become. He is fourth in the Association with 2.2 blocks per game while also chipping in 0.7 steals per match.

In the rebounding department, Claxton has been doing yeoman's work, averaging 11.2 boards per 36 minutes of game time. Unfortunately, the Nets need more help in that area, as the team ranks 28th in the league in total rebounds this season.

Concerns on offense

Offensively, there were concerns about how Claxton could complement the Nets' stars, considering that he cannot shoot worth a lick from downtown. That he has to share the court with another paint-bound player in Simmons, who will be back soon from an injury, can potentially cause the Nets' offense to struggle and limit the space for Durant and Irving to work.

However, the versatile big man has worked around his offensive limitations by serving as a screener, rim-runner, and lob-catcher - similar to how former Nets center Jarrett Allen operates.

The result has been encouraging, as Claxton leads the Association this season in field goal percentage with 72.7%.

Brooklyn has a 14-12 record and currently holds the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. While a playoff run seemed like a pipe dream early in the 2022-23 campaign, it certainly looks more achievable now. And if Claxton continues to improve, then the idea of the Nets becoming a title contender doesn't seem too far-fetched.

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