The University of Georgia Bulldogs have two former players participating in the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League. Second year forward Yante Maten of the Miami Heat and newly-drafted Nicolas Claxton of the Brooklyn Nets will both participate in the two-week competition.
Maten was undrafted in 2018, but signed a two-way deal with the Heat shortly after the draft concluded, while Claxton was selected with the 31st pick of the 2019 NBA Draft by the Nets.
The Miami Heat played three games prior to the Las Vegas league tipping off, going undefeated in those contests. That unbeaten streak continued to roll as the Heat ran out to a 3-0 record in the Vegas circuit as well. Miami has vaulted to becoming a favorite for tournament success.
In his first Vegas appearance, Maten scored nine points while grabbing four rebounds and two blocks in 19 minutes. He also had the second highest team plus/minus point differential at plus-32. Only 2019 lottery pick Tyler Herro was higher at plus-36.
Maten was in the starting lineup across his first three appearances this summer, averaging 15.3 points, shooting 38.3%, to go along with seven rebounds and 1.3 blocks. He sat out in the first game of the summer against the Los Angeles Lakers.
In his next two games, Maten’s Heat took on the Utah Jazz and the Orlando Magic. Against the Jazz, he scored six points and grabbed three rebounds. He took a more aggressive approach in the next contest. Maten had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. He added two assists and a block, while shooting 6-for-12 overall.
Maten also had one of Miami’s top summer highlights so far with his posterizing slam over Jazz forward George King.
Claxton got his first taste of professional level action when his Nets took on the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, July 5. Brooklyn was defeated by a score of 96-92.
Claxton was eased into the game as it appears player development expert Kenny Atkinson wanted his staff to take things slow. The training wheels are being removed now as the former Bulldog played 20 minutes against the Washington Wizards and 16 minutes against Croatia.
Claxton played 13 minutes in his debut in Las Vegas with two points, one rebound and one steal. He was one of the few positives on the squad with a +3. He also attempted a three-pointer in the game, possibly giving a glimpse into his role with Brooklyn.
He had his best game of the summer in the matchup with Washington. In his 20 minutes, he scored 12 points on 6-6 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds and a block. Claxton also played solid defense in the 88-85 win, which was the reason he skyrocketed up so many teams’ draft boards prior to the NBA Draft on June 20.
Claxton’s role with the Nets is likely being ironed out during these summer league games. The addition of DeAndre Jordan moves former starter Jarrett Allen further down the depth chart.
Claxton was projected to back up Allen, but now could see significant time at power forward.
Both Bulldogs are in position to be impactful on their 2019-2020 teams. Maten’s skill and Claxton’s versatility have begun to shine through at just the right times.