Nic Claxton ‘rejuvenated and relaxed’ after All-Star break in Virgin Islands – The Mercury News


No wonder Nic Claxton was running on dead legs.

Claxton, the Nets’ talented starting center and imposing rim protector, played a total of 1,592 minutes in the 54 games he played before the All-Star break.

In his first three seasons in Brooklyn, he added just 1,755 minutes in 94 total games. The fourth-year center, who had a stellar start to the season as a dark horse contender for Defensive Player of the Year, simply ran out of fuel – at an inopportune moment as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving orchestrated their respective trades out of Brooklyn. .

Claxton, however, did not make it past the All-Star break on his feet, nor did he attend NBA All-Star Weekend or participate in the festivities in Salt Lake City.

Instead, he had “really” fun “catching up with family and relaxing” in the Virgin Islands.

“I had a great break,” he told reporters after Thursday’s Nets practice. “Rejuvenated and relaxed and a good mental reset; much needed.”

Claxton is critical to the Nets’ success, especially as they embark on the journey to establish a new identity, now unable to rely on the star power of Durant and Irving to win games. He is the team’s defensive anchor and a competent finisher on the rim.

He has been this team’s answer at center and has established himself as a force in his league position.

However, there was a significant drop in Claxton production that coincided with the Durant and Irving deals.

Through the first 51 games of the regular season, Claxton averaged 13.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. In the three games following Durant’s trade from Brooklyn, Claxton averaged just seven points and 6.7 rebounds on 2.3 blocks per game. He has attempted about two fewer shots in those three games and is averaging four minutes less a night.

Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said the team may be forced to manage Claxton’s load to ensure he doesn’t tire for the team’s playoff offense. But he also understands the reality of the situation.

Playing Claxton heavy minutes gives your team the best chance of winning ballgames.

“I just think we have to be smart about it,” Vaughn said on Thursday. “He is so important to how we want to play.”

Vaughn suggested the Nets intend to walk a fine line.

“Hopefully we can do both, whether that’s keeping it at the number of minutes it was when it was fresh, getting double-doubles for us,” he said. “But also being strategic, using it back to back, which it feels like to us.”

Claxton has 21 double-doubles this season. He is averaging 32.7 minutes per game in those doubles, up from his season average of 29.5 minutes per game.

“Some games we’ll just dedicate ourselves to – maybe this is a game where he plays fewer minutes so we can play the next three in his normal minutes,” Vaughn said. So we’ll continue to see how he feels, but the most important thing is to continue to keep him fresh for the stint.”

Claxton said he is ready for the second half of the season. He said he hasn’t spoken to Vaughn about any potential minute caps, but that he’s ready for anything.

“The break definitely hit me, though. I feel so much better,” she said. “I’m excited to have some new legs and see everyone as a group and go out there and see what we can do.”

But how do you go from sunny Virgin Island skies to 35-degree Brooklyn weather?

“Just turn everything off,” he said. “Not easy to do, but just hit the reset button during those four or five days off and now we’re back.”


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