People think of the Brooklyn Nets as an offensive juggernaut and for very good reasons.
When your two best players also happen to be two of the greatest scorers of their generation, it’s only natural to try and maximize that.
But as good as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were, the Nets’ past struggles had plenty to do with their non-existent rim protection and inability to dominate the glass.
Notably, that might be a thing of the past now, as Nic Claxton has taken a massive leap forward under coach Jacque Vaughn, becoming one of the league’s most dominant defenders.
Claxton’s rim-protection and shot-blocking skills had already been on display in the early stages of his career.
However, he’s now also checking guards and wings on the perimeter, holding his own against them even more efficiently than some elite perimeter defenders.
Nic Claxton has done a better job defending wings and guards this year than almost anybody in the NBA, he’s a center. pic.twitter.com/nEj1xzdmly
— Brooklyn Netcast (@BrooklynNetcast) January 27, 2023
Claxton is currently leading the league in total blocks (122), blocks per game (2.7), block percentage (8%), and field goal percentage (74.3%).
He’s also third in Defensive Rating (107.6), fifth in Defensive Win Shares (2.3), 12th in Defensive Box Plus-Minus (1.8), and 14th in Win Shares (5.6), becoming one of the firmest candidates to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The Nets have struggled to stay at their best without Durant on the floor, and making up for that offensive production is no easy task.
But at least they can always count on Claxton to lock down the paint and get stops against the best players on Earth to keep them in contention.NEXT: The Nets Are Looking To Make Big Upgrades