Denver Nuggets 2022 NBA Draft grades

Jun 24, 2022, 1:27 PM
Christian Braun...
Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets added three rookies via the NBA Draft on Thursday.

Denver focused on defense with all three of their selections in what is a win-now year, but two are unlikely to crack the rotation in 2022-23. The Nuggets were rumored around a few trades for established NBA players, but none materialized. So how does this draft grade out? Let’s break down Calvin Booth’s first selections as the lead man:

No. 21 Christian Braun: B-

Braun is a hard-nosed, spirited 6-foot-7 wing from the national title-winning Kansas Jayhawks. He left school after his junior season, where he scored 15 points per game on 38% shooting from deep. Braun is an energetic defender who battles one-on-one. Braun is also a solid playmaker with an ability to score on the break. On top of that, Braun is a leaper and is an excellent rebounder, snatching 6.5 boards a game.

But Braun was a reach and seemed almost like a panic pick as a few of the Nuggets’ targeted wings flew off the board right before No. 21. Braun was ranked as the No. 43 prospect in the draft by The Ringer due to his incontinent scoring. Braun struggled to score when the competition got more challenging, never hitting his 15 points per game mark in any of the nine postseason games the Jayhawks played this past spring. He’s not a good isolation scorer, but the good news is he won’t need to do that in Denver.

Braun could be a plug-and-play guy, but he’s a question to crack the rotation. He fills some holes and had a strong college career, but the Nuggets probably could’ve taken him at No. 30, and that would’ve been an A-.

No. 30 Peyton Watson: F

The 8th best player in his high school class, the 6-foot-8 Watson has a ton of potential. He’s tall and lengthy while still being somewhat quick. He recovers well on defense thanks to his size, is an active rebounder and can make a few passes.

But it’s hard to make much of Watson after just 405 minutes of college basketball. The freshman couldn’t get on the floor, stuck behind UCLA’s veterans. And so Watson scored just three points per game in his lone year as a Bruin. His shot also doesn’t look great and he’s not very good at taking contract on drives.

He could be a great defender one day but today he’s just a project. The Nuggets need players right now to help MVP Nikola Jokic win the franchise its first title. Watson will play more for Grand Rapids than Denver this coming season and in two years it’s still hard to see him cracking the rotation. There were still players on the board who may have been able to step on the floor and play right away. At the very least many thought the Nuggets would package the pick for a veteran. Instead they have a project taking up a valuable roster spot in the middle of a championship window.

No. 46: Ismaël Kamagate: A-

The Parisian is 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-3 and 230-pound frame to match good athleticism. To get his build this late in the draft could be a possible steal. The 21-year-old center averaged 11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks over 27.1 minutes in France’s top league last season. He’s likely to stay in Europe as a draft-and-stash player but we could see him in Las Vegas for the Summer League.

The late-bloomer has flashed some scoring ability to match with great defense. He projects as a hard roller and good shot blocker. He could be the long-term solution for the Nuggets as the backup for Jokic. He runs the floor, can dribble a bit and leaps quickly.

The Ringer actually listed Kamagate as a higher prospect than Braun. The Nuggets also said they ranked him along many centers who went in the first round. The Nuggets did a good job trading into the draft to take a chance on a second rounder who won’t cost them a roster spot immediately and could slot in the future.

Overall: D

The D is for disappointing. It was a let down that the Nuggets used both of their first rounders instead of trading up or for an NBA player. In making the move for 30, they flipped a rotation player in JaMychal Green and in the nuggets did not get a for sure rotation player back in the Draft. If the Nuggets truly are about winning right now, this draft was not indicative of that. Braun could be solid, and not much more while Watson and Kamagate eventually factor into the rotation but it won’t be this year. And the Nuggets need help now.



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Denver Nuggets 2022 NBA Draft grades