Nets Nic Claxton not taking new starting role for granted

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Joe Harris
Brooklyn Nets forward RaiQuan Gray, center, attempts a layup during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson

It’s been eight years since Nets big man Nic Claxton had cut his hair and it resembled the shorter look he’s had since training camp started last week, but perhaps it’s a new look to go with the new starting role that he’s in line to take over this season. 

The Nets have seen the commitment from Claxton through the first week-plus through his work on the court and his added muscle during the offseason. Until last year, the big man had had spurts of success with the Nets, but had always been hampered by injury. 

“For my whole career, it’s been rough. I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries,” Claxton said after Wednesday’s practice. “I know I gotta continue to focus on my body and so I’m available for as many games as I can be. I just been locked in this past offseason just focusing on myself and it will show out here on the court this year.” 

Claxton started in Monday’s preseason opener in Brooklyn against the Philadelphia 76ers and played in 14 minutes while recording 12 points. He has also been meticulously working on his shooting during practice.

During the open portion of Wednesday’s practice, Claxton was seen on the main court working on his free throws. 

“His professionalism has taken a step,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “His attention to detail, his consistency and I think you see the benefits. It feels like he can play longer stretches of high intensity, he’s a little stronger on the physical and traffic. We just want to keep growing his kind of understanding of the game and situational awareness.” 

Claxton will be a part of a new look offensive scheme by the Nets that was highlighted on Monday by greater motion and ball movement. The more complex system was a change for Brooklyn that went more isolation-heavy last year due in large part to the ever-changing lineups that Nash had at his disposal.

For Claxton, that has led to a little bit of a change in his role offensively.

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“The balls not sticking we just trying to have more motion,” Claxton said. “It’s going to make us a lot tougher to guard. We have the talent, we have the shooters, and just me personally just trying to make myself a threat as much as I can out there on the court. Starting the break and just doing what I do and containing to build.” 

The Nets will continue their preseason with a game on Thursday against the Miami Heat. After that they’ll play two more tune up games on the road before the season opener in Brooklyn on Oct. 19. 

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