The Denver Nuggets have drafted Kansas wing, Christian Braun, with the 21st overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. He adds defensive intensity and 3-point shooting to a team looking for wings this offseason.
The 6’6″ wing is an athletic finisher who isn’t afraid to dunk all over defenses. It was this fearlessness and offensive aggression that made him an excellent fast-break option for the Jayhawks this past season en route to a National Championship.
What’s most interesting about his transition scoring is that he’s often the one to dribble the ball up the court at an outstanding pace. When watching his film, there were several times he grabbed the ball, ran the court, and finished with ease. He also had some solid 1-2 passes at full speed on the break.
In the 2021-22 season, Braun averaged 14.1 points per game while shooting a respectable 39 percent from the 3-point line. That high percentage was only on 3.3 attempts per game, down from his sophomore season, but his efficiency inside the arc more than made up for it.
A downside to his game is that his offensive game isn’t incredibly diverse. Outside of 3-point shots and points in the paint, the wing struggled to score efficiently against solid defense or in a set play.
Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer believes he’ll have to work on his mid-range and floater game to score efficiently in the NBA game:
"“Though he’s capable of getting to the basket, he doesn’t project as a player who will draw a ton of fouls. So he’ll need to improve his floater. As a freshman and sophomore, he was 7-of-27 (25.9 percent). This season, he’s up to 35.7 percent on a higher volume (56 attempts). He needs to get more comfortable and more choosy with his shot selection.”"
But for what the Denver Nuggets are asking of him, those downsides could be easily papered over by his situation.
How will Christian Braun fit with the Denver Nuggets?
The Denver Nuggets are in a unique position when drafting players. With Nikola Jokic playing most of the game, he’ll be able to find his teammates in perfect positions to score.
That strong transition game by Braun will only get better when Jokic is throwing accurate outlets to him. We’ve seen Christian make solid decisions on the break in a Kansas jersey, these should translate to Denver.
As it currently stands, the Denver Nuggets are looking for a final perimeter player to slide in next to Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. Jeff Green or Will Barton are the assumed finishers but there are minutes to be earned behind those two.
Usually, I would say be weary about Michael Malone leaning heavily on a rookie to contribute but in recent seasons, that stigma has changed. This past season, Malone handed the keys of the second unit to Bones Hyland when he proved he has what it takes, maybe Braun will get the same opportunity.
Denver Nuggets trade grade for Christian Braun: B
Several mock drafts had Christian Braun being selected in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft but the front office probably had a better idea of where he was going to go. If he was a threat to be off the board by the 30th pick, then it’s a nice choice and a solid fit.
The only point that takes this down from a better grade is that he might’ve been a reach. A very solid fit, but a reach. If the fit is as good as I think it’ll be, reaching doesn’t matter. Only time will tell.