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Nicolas Claxton to Nets: 2019 NBA Draft Scouting Profile and Analysis

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2019

ATHENS, GA - JANUARY 30: Nicolas Claxton #33 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates following a victory over the Florida Gators at Stegeman Coliseum on January 30, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
Mike Comer/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets selected Georgia Bulldogs power forward Nicolas Claxton with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft Thursday night at the Barclays Center in New York City. 

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The @BrooklynNets select Nicolas Claxton with the No. 31 pick in the 2019 #NBADraft! https://t.co/Ky30dyxE23

          

Claxton's Scouting Profile (h/t B/R's Jonathan Wasserman)

Offensive Strengths

Has center size at nearly seven feet and the ability to face up and score using dribbles and footwork. He's not a shooter, but he hit 18 threes last season and shows the potential to make open jumpers.

            

Offensive Weaknesses

Claxton lacks the strength to play through contact. He isn't as dominant inside as he should be for a player with his height and athleticism. And he isn't a shot-creator or reliable shooter.

                       

Defensive Outlook

Defense will drive his value. Scouts are drawn to his potential to be a switch defender who can guard in space and make plays on the ball.

          

Projected role: Defensive specialist/role player

Claxton, a mostly unheralded 3-star prospect when he joined UGA's 2017 recruiting class, was a limited contributor as a freshman. He started to come into his own this past season as a sophomore, averaging 13.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals across 32 appearances for the Bulldogs.

Equally as important, he showcased a desire to add versatility to his offensive game to jump-start the process of carving out an NBA niche. He more than doubled his number of three-point attempts per game (0.7 to 2.0), a necessary adjustment given the rise of the stretch 4 role.

The 20-year-old South Carolina native only made 28.1 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, so he's a work in progress, but starting the development process a year early should help the transition period as he makes the jump to the professional ranks.

In May, Claxton said during an interview with DraftExpress (h/t Palmer Thombs of 247Sports) his defensive game will be his calling card while he rounds out his offensive repertoire.

"Early on, I would definitely say defense," he said. "Defense and being an energy guy. Coming in, rebounding, defense and continuing to work on my shot in the offensive game and continuing to develop that."

He's a worthwhile investment at this stage of the draft. He's good enough defensively to fill the spark-plug role off the bench to give him value as a rookie, and if the jump shot does develop over the next couple of years, he could emerge as one of the class' biggest steals.

Ultimately, Claxton doesn't figure to take on a massive role during his debut campaign with the Nets, but he should see regular minutes off the bench.

He'll likely slot in behind Jarrett Allen at center upon his arrival in Brooklyn.

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