Nic Claxton was not named First or Second Team All-Defense despite a breakout season anchoring an improved Brooklyn Nets unit. Claxton finished third in the center voting behind Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks and Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat.
BKN’s Nic Claxton and Mikal Bridges received votes for the NBA All Defensive teams: pic.twitter.com/1bMpFZVGO0
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) May 9, 2023
The snub comes despite Claxton tying Jaren Jackson Jr. for the league lead in stocks (steals + blocks) with 254. The 23-year-old dominated this season as both a perimeter defender and rim protector, routinely overwhelming the NBA’s top scorers on switches and weakside rotations.
Claxton defended the most isolation possessions in the league (202) by a wide margin, per NBA.com/stats. (Al Horford was second with 155). He allowed just 0.79 points per possession on those plays, the second-fewest among 30 players to guard 85 or more isos.
Claxton finished fourth in the league in defensive rating among players to notch at least 1,500 minutes. The 2019 second-round pick was a fixture in Defensive Player of the Year conversations up until the midseason trades of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, after which Brooklyn finished with a sub-.500 record.
Mikal Bridges also missed the cut by a slim margin after earning a First-Team selection last season. The 26-year-old finished sixth in the guard voting, earning six First-Team votes and 21 Second-Team votes.
Bridges shouldered the largest offensive burden of his career following his trade to the Nets. He flourished in a lead-scoring role, averaging 27.7 points on 47/38/89 shooting splits. Despite his heavy offensive usage, Bridges still routinely defended the opposing team’s best player.
Barring a significant trade, Bridges and Claxton will return as the Nets’ top two players next season. Bridges’ contract is among the most team-friendly deals in the league at $23.3 million annually for the next three seasons. The same can be said for Claxton next year, who will make $8.75 million before receiving a significant payday next summer.
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