At Thursday night's NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets selected Kansas Jayhawks guard Christian Braun with the 21st overall pick. Braun spent three years at one of the nation's top college programs, winning a national championship to cap his collegiate career.
Braun was pivotal in Kansas' championship run, playing 34.4 minutes per game over the 40 games played on the season. He averaged 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on 49.5% from the field and 38.6% from three.
One of Braun's best attributes is his defensive ability, something Michael Malone ensured would be a deciding factor in the Nuggets' selection. Braun excels off the ball, where he is capable of getting in passing lanes and forcing his way for rebounds.
He is also a strong on-ball defender, with his versatility allowing him to check players from the point guard to the small forward position. He may even have some success against smaller power forwards.
Braun is an intelligent player on the offensive end. He is not a primary ball-handler, but he can create for others with strong passing skills and has enough ball-handling acumen to lead a fast break or play a secondary initiator role.
In terms of his shooting, Braun is at his best in catch-and-shoot scenarios. Synergy clocked in his C&S numbers at 38.3% in 2021-22. He is not quite as reliable off the dribble, but shouldn't need to be given the players he'll be sharing the floor with.
With Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr., it's rare that Braun will be forced to create for himself. He should be receiving plenty of open shot opportunities, and has done well converting on those in streaks.
As mentioned previously, Braun is a strong rebounder for his size. Averaging 6.5 per game despite only being 6'6", he uses a surprising first leap to overtake rebounds from taller players.
Braun slots in perfectly on this Nuggets team as an infusion of energy and versatility off the bench. He fits alongside just about every player on the roster, and should complement the team's star trio nicely.
If he's playing with Murray, Bones Hyland, Monte Morris, or Will Barton, he can roam the baselines, cut to the basket, and put himself in positions to score easily. Next to Porter Jr. or Jeff Green, he can provide another level of defensive versatility.
And above all, he gives Jokić another place to turn to on both ends of the floor when he's ultimately double-teamed by opponents.