Nicolas Claxton claims Brooklyn Nets had a “toxic environment” last season as players were unsure about being with the team
Nicolas Claxton highlighted a bold reason for the difference between the Brooklyn Nets being without Kevin Durant last season and now. The Nets were without Durant a year ago at this time. The team experienced a 12-game skid that turned their season around without KD.
Brooklyn has currently dropped their last three games in his absence. However, Claxton believes that there is a big difference between now and then. Here’s what he said after the Nets’ 106-98 loss to the San Antonio Spurs (via Nick Friedell):
“Last year … it was kind of a toxic environment. We didn’t know if everybody was going to be here at the time. This year, there’s no distinction between everybody that’s out there. We’re going to figure it out.”
The Nets had many internal problems. Kyrie Irving was suspended for his anti-vaccination stance. Brooklyn eventually recalled Irving, but he was only eligible to play road games as New York’s mandates prohibited him from playing in Brooklyn until they lifted the restrictions in April.
His backcourt partner and All-Star guard James Harden was not impressed with Irving’s absence and the team’s losing streak, which led to his exit. The locker room was already adjusting to Irving’s unavailability, so from a mental standpoint, they struggled to find cohesion or build chemistry.
But it hasn’t been like that this year. The Brooklyn Nets’ internal problems eased after a torrid offseason in which Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving could have left the team. Since coach Jacque Vaughn took over on Nov. 1, the Nets have displayed impeccable chemistry, leading to their midseason turnaround.
Without Durant, the team has been inconsistent, but those issues are entirely on the court. Nicolas Claxton appears to have made a spot-on assessment of the situation.
The Brooklyn Nets need leadership from Nicolas Claxton amid Kevin Durant’s absence
The Brooklyn Nets have lost three straight games in Kevin Durant’s absence following their 106-98 loss to the lowly San Antonio Spurs on the road. The Nets were also without Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn’s offense has gone cold during this skid.
It is not easy to replace 30 points per match. All teams struggle without their superstars. However, the Nets are better equipped than most, if not all teams across the NBA to register a decent run. The Nets have struggled to manage their foul shooting.
Against Spurs, their defense also crumbled. That has been one of their biggest strengths, so the Nets should have played with more discipline. Brooklyn obviously needs a leader on the court in KD’s absence.
Nicolas Claxton, the team’s defensive anchor and a rising star, could be that difference. He has been their most consistent player behind Durant this year. Claxton needs to be more vocal on the field and in the locker room during this phase.
The Brooklyn Nets may struggle to get their offense going, but if they can maintain their intensity on the other end, breaking out of this slump would be a bit easier.