Center Nic Claxton has agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract to return to the Brooklyn Nets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This significant deal was finalized just a day after the Nets traded Mikal Bridges to the New York Knicks in exchange for a haul of draft picks and Bojan Bogdanović.

Drafted as a second-round pick out of Georgia in the 2019 NBA Draft, Claxton has evolved from a lightly used reserve into one of the NBA’s most productive defensive big men over the past five seasons. The 25-year-old has been a pivotal player for the Nets, averaging 12.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 2 assists in 29.8 minutes per game over the past two seasons. Claxton’s consistency is highlighted by his 147 appearances, all of which he started.

Standing at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-2.5-inch wingspan and a 9-foot-2 standing reach, Claxton has cemented his reputation as one of the league’s premier shot-blockers. He ranked in the top 10 for blocks per game and total blocks, and in the top five for block percentage over the past two seasons. Only Brook Lopez logged more blocks (382) than Claxton (335) during this period. Opponents shot just 52.3% against him at the rim in the 2022-23 season, placing him sixth among 100 defenders contesting at least 200 close-range attempts, and 54.4% in the 2023-24 season, ranking him 13th among a 113-defender sample.

Claxton’s defensive prowess extends beyond shot-blocking. He has the ability to switch screens and guard smaller players on the perimeter effectively. Despite his 215-pound frame, which can limit his effectiveness against the league’s burlier bigs, Claxton’s foot speed, lateral agility, and athletic burst enable him to keep up with nimbler guards and wings. His defensive acumen allows him to prevent playmakers from creating open looks, funnel them into traffic, and use his length to recover and contest shots from behind.

Offensively, Claxton plays a more limited role, utilizing only 15.6% of Brooklyn’s offensive possessions last season and holding the ball for about a minute and a half per game, on average. While not a primary scoring threat unless near the rim, he excels in the two-man game, ranking in the 90th percentile for scoring efficiency as a pick-and-roll roll man in the 2022-23 season. Claxton also tied for 14th in screen assists per game last season despite Brooklyn’s significant lack of on-ball playmaking. As the NBA’s leader in field-goal percentage during the 2022-23 season, Claxton has demonstrated his ability to finish plays effectively.

Two seasons ago, Claxton was seen as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate while playing for a star-studded Nets team with title aspirations. Although Brooklyn has faced challenging times marked by superstar departures, coaching changes, and a slide in standings, Claxton remains a valuable piece for the team. At 25, his ability to switch defensively, protect the rim, and contribute in the two-man game makes him a crucial asset for the Nets, underscoring the value of his new contract.



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