30. Milwaukee Bucks
Nicolas Claxton: Center – UGA
Height:7’0 Weight:217 Age:20.1
Wingspan:7’3 Standing Reach:9’2
Nicolas Claxton of the Georgia Bulldogs is our last pick of round one. Claxton recently announced that he would forego his final two years of eligibility and remain in the NBA Draft. UGA fans had hoped that Claxton would return to Athens for one more season and join a recruiting class that currently ranks number eight in the country, according to 247sports.com. That amazingly ranks UGA one spot ahead of perennial basketball powerhouse UNC. Instead Claxton received positive feedback from NBA executives after showing well at the combine. He announced his decision to turn pro via Twitter.
The fact that Nicolas Claxton decided to remain in the NBA Draft, tells me that he believes he has a great chance of being selected in the first round. If indeed he is drafted in round one, he will be the first Georgia Bulldogs player to go in the first round, since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2013. Jarvis Hayes is the only other UGA first round NBA draftee this millennium. Brook Lopez isn’t getting any younger and Claxton would be a good fit stylistically as a future replacement, so it makes sense for him to be projected to Milwaukee with this pick. Nic Claxton has a game that contains many of the qualities teams look for in the modern big man. He’s comfortable handling the ball and diving to the basket. He is also able to make plays for others as a passer and finish passes from others.
Nicolas Claxton blocks shots and is a solid rebounder. He has the athletic ability to be a switch defender at the next level. Nic has range on his jumpshot, but it is inconsistent. His percentage from downtown suffered with an increase in attempts. He showed major improvement last season under coach Tom Crean and has the potential to develop into a solid NBA starter once he fills out his frame. He would be my second choice behind Daniel Gafford, should the Atlanta Hawks indeed trade back up into round one for a big.
Cole Zwicker of The Stepien tweeted a video that shows the defensive versatility of Nic Claxton as a switch defender:
As a fan of the Georgia Bulldogs, I wish Nic Claxton the best as he embarks on his NBA journey. The March Madness Twitter account provides us with highlights of a nasty jam by Claxton:
2018 Stats: Pts:13 REB:8.6 APG:1.8 STL:1.1 BLK:2.5 FG%:46.0 2P%:50.9 3P%:28.1 FT%:64.1
That concludes the Atl All Day Mock Draft 2.0. Notice the run on centers, with four of the last five picks being guys who are capable of playing the five. Non superstar centers are not as valued as they once were, but they are still essential to a team’s success. Teams will likely target the best remaining bigs with late first round picks, rather than settling for wings that rank much further down the draft board.
Should the NBA Draft fall this way, it would be a nice haul of players to add to the Atlanta Hawks young core. They would add a secondary ball handler in Reddish, a perimeter defender in Nassir Little and a rim protector with Daniel Gafford. Adding two wings would also give the Atlanta Hawks the option to trade an incumbent wing for another stretch big man, should Dewayne Dedmon not be retained. The club could also stockpile more future draft assets. With a draft haul such as this, the Atlanta Hawks could let all three rookies compete for starting spots. Yet the team would also have the depth to ease them into the action, should the young players fail to prove they are ready for big minutes. The important thing is, the Atlanta Hawks will have added length and defensive potential for Lloyd Pierce to mold. Yet these players also contain the upside to be potential stars, particularly Cam Reddish.