The reason for Nicolas Claxton’s rise in draft stock? Potential

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When Nicolas Claxton declared from UGA, many felt he could benefit from another year of SEC basketball. Despite that, he has no regrets leaving early and feels it was the best path for him. His decision is already paying off. Even though no games have been played since, he is now viewed by many as a first-round pick.

Claxton worked out for the Hawks in what was his 12th workout of the Pre-Draft process. He says it has been a marathon, and he is taking it day by day but is enjoying the process. It’s easy to see why, as teams are buying into his potential and giving him good feedback.

The big man says he must work on the consistency in his jump shot and his strength, which “will come with time.” But according to him, his strong suits are his versatility and ability to stretch the floor.

When asked what he would attribute his rise in draft stock to, he believes it is “having teams see the way I can defend, my offense. People like to call me a project, which is fine. But when I get out there on the court, people will see my game. Teams seeing the player I can be and my frame and the way I can work to be the player I can become.”

Claxton has been talking weekly with Coach Tom Crean, who has helped him prepare for interviews and continues to give him advice and feedback to teams during the process. When asked about the possibility of being selected by the Hawks, he said it “would be a blessing” to join a home town team with him being from South Carolina.

Given Lloyd Pierce and the current Hawks staff’s track record, Atlanta might be the best place for him to land in terms of development. His shot will have to become more consistent, but his ability to move for a man his size is impressive, and teams are buying into the potential. With the way Claxton’s draft stock is looking, if the Hawks decide he is a target, they could likely package their second rounders to get a late first, or perhaps they get fortunate. He would be a nice fit with the Hawks fast-paced offense.

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