Can the rookies play legitimate rotation minutes?
The Denver Nuggets were busy on draft night, picking up Christian Braun and Petyon Watson with the 21st and 30th picks respectively. Both of them are younger rookies, Braun being the older rookie at 21 years old, and while those players typically aren’t solid contributors, there’s always the possibility that they are.
Watson is more of a long-term project but Braun should bring hustle, shooting, and defense, just like he did for his successful Kansas team a year prior.
In Summer League, Braun didn’t shoot the ball well, and that’s an understatement. Taking the Vegas experience with a grain of salt, what Christian Braun does best, should work well in the NBA if he’s trusted with minutes.
The downside of Braun’s game is his inability to create for himself. If he plays with the starters, he’ll be cutting around and spotting up with Nikola Jokic. If he is able to convert on his looks, he’ll be battling with Jeff Green as the second wing off the bench for this Nuggets squad.
If Braun can crack the rotation, it’s an added benefit for the Denver Nuggets. If he can’t, no sweat. As a rookie, he’ll still be valuable in any potential trades down the line. Michael Malone rarely trusts rookies unless he has to and Green will likely be hard to replace in the rotation outside of an injury.
As my colleague Kyle Berry wrote after draft night:
"“Braun’s ceiling seems capped as long as Denver stays healthy simply due to their bevy of talent, but last year left the Nuggets wanting a little more out of their matchups at shooting guard and Christian could be the cure that ails them.”"
Braun will get opportunities in the preseason, but can he hit his shots? We will see.