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Nets Nic Claxton: ‘I feel that I am one of the best defenders in the league’

Nets
Brooklyn Nets forward Nic Claxton (33) dunks over Toronto Raptors forward Christian Koloko (35) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

As the Nets have turned their season around, one key player has emerged that isn’t named Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving has been Nic Claxton. 

As one of the lone big men on the Nets roster, Claxton’s importance has become clear night in and night out and night out. In fact this season, Claxton is only second behind Brook Lopez for blocks per game with 2.3 and he has averaged nearly nine rebounds and 12 points per game. 

His shooting percentage (74.1%) leads the league as well as his effective percentage (74.4%). That goes along with Claxton’s free throw shooting which has grown leaps and bounds since he struggled in Game 4 of the playoffs last season. 

“When Nic’s telling me to get out of the way so he could get blocks, I know we’re in for a good active night from him,” Kyrie Irving said after Friday’s win in Toronto. 

All of the success has given Claxton a boost in confidence, and rightfully so. 

“It’s just me being me,” Claxton told YES Network. “Honestly, I feel that I am one of the best defenders in the league. I feel I should be in the top for the Defensive Player of the Year. I feel like I wasn’t getting the respect I deserve. We’re winning, my numbers are good protecting the rim, guarding 1 through 5.

“So, it’s just me being me, bringing energy and it’s great for the team.” 

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The Nets have gone on a five game winning streak after their latest victory over the Toronto Raptors. Brooklyn has won nine of their last 10 games entering Sunday’s game against the Detorit Pistons. 

The Nets have improved to 18-12 and sit in fourth in the conference after a horrid start that made it look like Brooklyn could have blown up the team. Sunday’s game wrapped up a four game road trip for the Nets. 

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