Nic Claxton Sounds Off on Nets’ Lofty Challenge

Nic Claxton, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Nic Claxton #33 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts.

For the Brooklyn Nets, owning the longest active win streak since November 1 and the longest active winning streak in the NBA cannot be enough. They have to want more because, after all, they were assembled to do more.

This is not the 2019 squad that surprisingly made the postseason with a hodgepodge of parts led by Jarrett Allen and D’Angelo Russell, among several others.

These Nets, led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, are supposed to contend for titles.

If they want to get there, they will first need to stay healthy which has been a bit of a bugaboo for both stars as well as Ben Simmons, the third member of their “Big Three”. But they might also want to take heed of the message from one of their emerging talents in fourth-year big man, Nic Claxton.

Claxton Sees Nets’ Challenge

“The talent on our roster speaks for itself,” Claxton said per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “So it’s definitely sustainable if we just stay locked-in game-by-game. That’s our challenge.”

Claxton cited the Nets’ defense of late as a big reason why they have been so formidable.

Brooklyn has the eighth-best defensive rating since November 1. That’s when Jacque Vaughn took over and began instilling a sense of confidence in the team that has shown through in players’ comments.

“We always knew what we were capable of with everybody healthy, but it’s one thing to actually go out and put the plan into action,” Claxton said. “So it’s good. Our confidence is definitely at an all-time high. We’ve just got to keep things rolling.”

There was some reservation about buying into what the Nets were doing during the early portion of this run. They had been taking advantage of a softer part of their schedule but that has changed somewhat with four straight wins over teams that had playoff hopes before the season began.

Along with their surge, has come Claxton’s breakout with a career-best line of 11.9 points 8.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, and 1.4 assists while leading the NBA in field goal percentage.

But his focus on the less-glamorous end of the floor could pay off in hardware.

“The better that I play defensively and the more consistent I am – protecting the rim, guarding the perimeter, one-through-five every single night – the better that the team is going to be,” Claxton said. “And me being an anchor defensively for our team, defensively and overall, the résumé and everything should speak for itself.”

Clax to KG

Those comments should not ring hollow. Hall of Famer and former Nets big man Kevin Garnett weighed in on what we have seen from the Nets.

They have vaulted themselves to the second-best record in the NBA albeit along with the Milwaukee Bucks in their own conference as well as the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans in the West.

Still, Garnett thinks that they are still missing something.

“They still need an anchor, but the Nets flipped a chaotic summer into a great blend of veteran depth and elite talent,” Garnett tweeted after the 125-117 road win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Nets still rank just 26th in rebounding and, even with the 215-pound Claxton’s breakout, they could use more depth than second-year man Day’Ron Sharpe. They have been using Simmons in that role as well but, with his injury history, perhaps they could use another body for insurance.

It’s just that they might have already found their anchor.

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