Height: 7’0” Weight: 217 Wingspan: 7’3” Age: 20 College: Georgia Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina
Nic Claxton is one of the most mobile, and versatile bigs in the draft. He can help a team with his shot blocking, and versatility. He can hurt a team with his lack of vision. His role will be a slashing and shot blocking 4. He’s tough, and plays hard so that including his length makes me think his best basketball is ahead of him. He had average production with 16.4 points and 3.2 blocks per 40 minutes, but that is very improved his Freshman year. He also improved his A/to ratio up to .9, which isn’t good, but not horrible either. It shows he’s improving his vision and feel for the game. The next step in the evolution is his game is his shot, he only shot 28% from three.
Claxton will likely start his career as more an off ball player, but when he gets more experience will have the ball more. He’s a good cutter off the ball that gets easy dunks, and I imagine this will be one of the main ways he scores. He’s a below average shooter right now, but has a nice stroke and shoots with confidence. He was in the 35th percentile off catch and shoots, and the 31st off the dribble. He was in the 40th percentile overall as a spot up player. Attacking closeout is one of his strengths, but until he becomes a better shooter, people don’t need to close out hard on him. One area I would like to see Claxton used more in is setting ball screens. He could be a very good roll man with a lot of gravity, because of how easily he can catch lobs. Not only would he get easy lob dunks here, but he would draw help which would open up wide open corner 3’s.
On the ball Claxton is a good isolation player. His long strides are tough to stop, and it’s rare to find a big that can move like him. He has solid handles, and actually changes speeds pretty well. He was in the 90th percentile in isos including passes, and there were times where he was unstoppable. Those times were mostly in elbow situations, and whatever team drafts him should let him isolate from there. Part of the reason his efficiency was so good is because how good of a finisher he is. He was in the 80th percentile, but I think he even has more potential than that. He’s very left hand dominant, but his great length helps him a ton. You can’t teach his length, and it will serve him well down the road. Claxton needs to improve his Pick and Roll play. He was only in the 24th percentile in Pick and Rolls including passes. He doesn’t have good vision, and doesn’t always get shoulder to shoulder. Him not being much of a pull up threat also hurts in this aspect. If he improves his vision and shot, he has a chance to be a solid Pick and Roll player.
Defensively Claxton has elite potential, and that’s where he will make his biggest impact right away. He can guard 1-5. He needs to work on his strength so some of the stronger bigs in the league don’t bully him. He is very mobile though, and will be a very good Pick and Roll defender in the NBA. Almost every NBA team runs a lot of Pick and Roll, so this is important. His rim protection will also be huge for whoever drafts him, he’s one of the best shot blockers in the draft. He is sometimes not in perfect position while helping, but I expect him to improve this down the road. He plays hard on this end, and has all the tools to become an elite defender.
Claxton is a very intriguing prospect with an average floor, and high ceiling. He needs more experience to improve, and I don’t think he’ll be great for his first 2-3 seasons, but down the road he could special. His floor is a shot blocker off the bench that defends the Pick and Roll well. I expect him to improve his feel and become a starter or key role player off the bench one day that is great on defense, and solid in isolation scoring and finishing. His ceiling is an all star. He has a very similar talent level and body type to Pascal Siakam (who I think will become an all-star in 2-3 years). If he improves his shot, and feel for the game a lot, while hitting the weight room and improving his strength he has all star potential. All these skills are improveable with the right amount of experience and work ethic. Claxton is a huge sleeper because he hasn’t been that productive so far, but I believe he needs time to grow into his body and gain experience.