Did the Denver Nuggets hit a home run in drafting Christian Braun?
It’s way too early to say what Christian Braun could be in his young NBA career but turn on a Denver Nuggets game in 2022-23, and you’ll see the 21st pick from this summer’s draft drapped on some of the NBA’s best players, hustling to loose balls and splashing open threes.
Braun is only an impressive 41 minutes into his pro career. Coming out of college, where he helped the Jayhawks to a national title and won a state championship in high school, his pedigree for winning basketball is already evident. And his fellow Nuggets instantly recognized it.
“I drafted him,” said Jamal Murray. When asked what that meant, Murray joked again, “I just drafted him.”
“He’s been in the gym with me,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said in jest, taking credit for the rookie’s strong game on Saturday.
“He can make decisions defensively and offensively, so I’m happy for him,” Nikola Jokic said.
While they’re all seemingly having fun with the young guy, who is a good sign of his ability to mesh in locker room, head coach Michael Malone and others are already seeing improvements from game to game.
“Christian Brown is a rookie who has kind of grown up pretty quickly in his league,” the coach said. “It’s great to see him step in and shoot the shot with confidence. He turned it over once against Golden State because he turned down a shot when he came out; I said listen,’ make or miss, you have to take that shot because it’s a good shot. And you worked your butt off on that shot every day.’ And he stepped in and played with great confidence, which was fun to watch.”
Yes, it’s too early to rave about three threes and 13 points three games into a season. But the potential is there. He’s a tool that first perfectly into the Nuggets’ need, and he’s a playable wing that’s cracked the rotation on a contender right away.
Showing his confidence in Braun, Malone subbed out Jokic for Braun for a defensive possession late against the Thunder. Leaving the Jayhawk on the court with KCP, Bruce Brown, Aaron Gordon and Murray. A switchable defensive gadget lineup Malone will likely use again.
“I think those guys are all plus defenders, and they can switch,” Malone said about the four around Murray. “Their versatility and toughness will help us close a lot of games this year.”
Just look at the clips Joel Rush put together below of Braun on defense against the defending champs.
Defense in his second game as an NBA rookie against Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry in the #Nuggets' recent win over the #Warriors #CBD
(= Christian Braun Defense, heard it here first (I think?))#MileHighBasketball @Ballin25Braun pic.twitter.com/cKnS3Rw092
— Joel Rush (@JoelRushNBA) October 24, 2022
Braun will be worth watching as the Nuggets go from an offensive juggernaut that can only win via shoutout to a team that can actually stop the NBA’s best on the perimeter. He, Brown and KCP are the keys to solving the long issue of the Nuggets’ defensive woes.