2019 NBA Draft: For Atlanta Hawks, Nicolas Claxton Could Be a Steal

Nicolas Claxton Atlanta Hawks 2019 NBA Draft (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Nicolas Claxton Atlanta Hawks 2019 NBA Draft (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

A quick look at a potential second round steal in the 2019 NBA Draft for the Atlanta Hawks.

In each and every NBA Draft, a player falls to the second round or down into the mid-to-late first round that turns out to be a brilliant player. Just look at the 2017 Draft, where Donovan Mitchell went in the late lottery and John Collins fell all the way to 19th – where the Atlanta Hawks happily snapped him up. In the 2019 NBA Draft, there will certainly be some risers and fallers.

One such player that is getting fairly little shine ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft is Nicolas Claxton out of the University of Georgia. Claxton put up some sterling numbers in his sophomore season and was awarded with a 2018-19 All-SEC Team berth at season’s end.

Despite those accolades, Claxton has fallen down drafts boards due to the vaguely “positionless” nature of his game and fairly unimpressive three-point shooting numbers.

However, a quick look at some of his highlights makes it clear that Claxton is a unique talent at the college level, and if he falls to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft, the team might have a steal on their hands.

Claxton often serves as Georgia’s offensive initiator in his second season, and he feasted in transition after grab-and-go scenarios off of missed buckets. Beyond that, Claxton was an excellent rim protector with his 6-foot-11, 220-pound frame and 7-foot-3 wingspan – so much so that he was 10th in the NCAA with 2.5 blocks per game on an 8 percent block rate per College Basketball Reference.

To show Claxton’s versatility, only two players who played over 1000 minutes during the college season featured a block rate of 8 percent or higher, an assist rate of 12 percent or higher, a usage rate of 22 percent or higher and a defensive box plus/minus of 5.5 or higher. Claxton was one and projected lottery pick Brandon Clarke of Gonzaga (recently slated to be a Hawks pick in our latest mock draft) was the other – that’s it!

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The 2019 NBA Draft will be full of interesting angles and fascinating prospects, but if the Atlanta Hawks truly want to explore a high-ceiling prospect who is fairly unsung at the moment, Claxton could be the answer.