The Denver Nuggets are one of the NBA’s best teams, and that’s due in part to the terrific play by two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and clutch performer Jamal Murray. Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon have both proven to be versatile forwards who can show up when it matters most, too.
A lot of the praise for the Nuggets’ success was handed out to their best players, and that was really it. Bruce Brown, Denver’s sixth man last season, earned a big contract after proving to be one of the NBA’s best bench players and could have been a starter on a lot of other teams.
There was a player on the Nuggets’ bench that did not really get a lot of people talking about him until the playoffs started, and mainly the NBA Finals. Christian Braun was an underrated player in the playoffs.
He was often tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best wing player, whether that be Devin Booker, Anthony Edwards, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, or LeBron James. He had to guard a lot of talented players throughout multiple rounds, and he did not back down from the challenge. The Denver Nuggets had to face a lot of talented players and teams, and Braun had to guard a lot of them.
During NBA’s media day, Christian Braun was asked about his role and impact on his upcoming sophomore season.
"“It’s more important to be good at what I was already good at, and that’s what got me on the floor. That’s what’s going to keep me on the floor. Then, focus on hitting the jump shot and handling the ball.”"
With Bruce Brown and Jeff Green both on different teams, that leaves a lot of room for Braun to get a lot of minutes off of the bench. He should be Denver’s sixth man, and will really only start if an injury happens.
He shot 35.4 percent from distance last season, which is fine. But when he entered the 2022 NBA Draft, he shot 38.6 percent from the 3-point line in his last season at Kansas. What Braun really excels at is cutting, and with Nikola Jokic being the primary playmaker, that gives Braun a lot easier job of getting to the basket.
Braun could be the Nuggets’ backup point guard if he needed to. He is not the best playmaker in the world, but he does not need to be. Bruce Brown was a decent playmaker, but not amazing, and he still was given a lot of the backup minutes behind Jamal Murray in the playoffs.
With Reggie Jackson and Jalen Pickett being the only backup point guards for the Denver Nuggets, Braun could definitely be the Nuggets’ secondary facilitator. He averaged 2.8 assists in his last season in Kansas, so he definitely is able to make the right pass from time to time.
If Kentavious Caldwell-Pope declines his player option and leaves next offseason, it would not be surprising to see Braun take the starting shooting guard spot. His defense, versatility, and cutting are really valuable to the Nuggets, and he definitely can prove to the NBA world that he should have been drafted higher than 21st overall two drafts ago.
In other news, Christian Braun now has facial hair. He looks like he’s going to have a breakout season, and will be a really valuable piece to this team going forward.