Nicolas Claxton’s draft stock rising ahead of 2019 NBA Draft
At some point on Thursday night, Nicolas Claxton will hear his name called during the 2020 NBA Draft. And as we get closer and closer to Claxton learning his fate, it seems like his stock is peaking at the perfect time.
When he made the decision to test the draft waters back in April, Claxton was seen as someone who was a fringe first-round candidate. If he could play well at the NBA draft combine, he would greatly help his stock and possibly secure the guaranteed contract that comes with being a first-round draft pick.
Claxton did just that and elected to stay in the 2019 NBA Draft. And it appears that it was the correct decision.
With the latest batch of mock drafts coming out on Monday, quite a few experts believe that Claxton has clearly cemented himself in the first round, with some even projecting the Georgia forward to go in the middle of the first round.
Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo has Claxton going to the San Antonio Spurs with the No. 19 overall pick. The Spurs have been frequently mentioned as a destination for Claxton, but it has previously been with the No. 29 pick.
“Claxton opted to end his workouts for teams early, and, feels secure with where he stands range-wise going into draft night,” Woo wrote. “There’s some real optimism around the league that he can do some ball-handling and become uniquely useful on the perimeter as more of a forward than a center. His defensive capabilities are also extremely promising, as he’s mobile enough to switch on the perimeter and also help on the inside.”
The Ringer’s 2020 NBA Mock Draft had Claxton going to the Atlanta Hawks with the No. 17 overall pick. The draft guide praised Claxton’s defensive skills as well as his ball handling abilities. Claxton led Georgia in points, rebounds, block and steals a season ago.
The biggest concern with Claxton going forward is his jump shot. Last season he shot just 28 percent on his 3-point attempts. Claxton was just a 61 percent free throw shooter in college, which has been a past indicator of shooting potential. But Claxton did go from a 51 percent free throw shooter in his freshman season to a 64 percent shooter as a sophomore.
ESPN’s NBA mock draft wasn’t quite as high, as it has Claxton pegged to be taken with the first pick of the second round by the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets also have the No. 27 pick in this year’s draft. Given that Claxton will be a developmental player, he has been frequently linked to team’s with multiple draft picks. Some of those teams — specifically that are picking towards the end of the first round — include the Hawks, Spurs, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Philadelphia 76ers could also be a landing spot should Claxton fall out of the first round. Philadelphia has the No. 33 and No. 34 overall picks.
Claxton will be the first Georgia basketball player drafted since the Detroit Pistons took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft.