Former University of Kansas guard Christian Braun on Thursday night was chosen by the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Braun, a 6-foot-7, 218-pound, 21-year-old graduate of Blue Valley Northwest High School, was the 21st overall pick in the two-round draft held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. He joined teammate Ochai Agbaji, who went 14th overall, as a first-round pick.
“It was amazing to see Ochai go tonight,” Braun said in the interview room at Barclays Center, referring to watching the first-team All-American be selected by Cleveland in the lottery.
“Just lessons I would take, coach (Bill Self) told me, ‘If you’re going to try the process to go (test waters), go two feet in.’ That’s something I would say I took from this process and the championship game. It was an amazing moment for us,” Braun added of defeating North Carolina for the 2022 NCAA title.
Braun and Agbaji are KU’s 25th and 26th first-round picks and 39th and 40th draft picks overall since the NBA adopted a two-round draft in 1989. They are also the the 15th and 16th players from a Kansas City area high school to become a first-round NBA Draft pick.
Braun averaged 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists during the 2021-22 season for KU’s national championship team. He decided to turn pro after his junior campaign.
Originally from Burlington, Kansas, Braun was third of all players at the 2022 NBA Combine in maximum vertical leap (40 inches) while tied for third in standing vertical leap (33.5 inches). He has a 6-6 1/2 wingspan and 8-3 1/2 standing reach.
The Denver Post’s Mike Singer wrote what the Nuggets had in mind in selecting KU’s Braun.
“Braun, a feisty wing, was the type of player the Nuggets had in mind heading into the draft. He averaged 14.1 points and shot over 38% from three (and) addressed the Nuggets’ need to improve their perimeter defense, which was a sore spot last season,” Singer wrote.
“His experience — the Jayhawks won the national championship this past season — was a bonus. The Nuggets never intended to add a young prospect with their top pick, instead hunting for a player who could contribute immediately. Braun checks that box. His effort in hustle situations endeared him to Kansas coach Bill Self, and his competitiveness endeared him to Booth (Calvin, Nuggets GM). He also impressed scouts at the NBA draft combine, finishing third overall with a 40-inch max vertical leap.
Braun averaged 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season, an indication that he’s got far more depth to his game than just his motor,” Singer added. “Known as a slasher and an excellent cutter, the Nuggets envision Braun thriving in Denver’s pass-happy offense.”
Ron Gutterman of NBA.com had this to say about Braun joining the Nuggets: “Alongside Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr., Braun figures to be a strong fit as an intelligent, defensive-minded player. His jump shot was strong in his freshman and junior seasons, hopefully leading to reliable shot-making with the Nuggets. Braun has also shown prowess as a secondary ball-handler, which could come in handy in the Nuggets’ second unit.”
Asked what he will bring to an NBA team, Braun said recently: “I think intangible things. I think I bring a lot of things that impact winning at a lot of different levels — scoring the ball; diving on the ground getting a lot of loose balls, playing defense. I think I can bring a little bit of everything my first year in the league.
“I think I bring a personality, doing things that other people don’t want to do,” he added. “That’s something I’ve been good at throughout my career. Just being me, doing the things that kind of got me to Kansas. That’s what I am proud of … doing little things that’s not always pretty or in the stat sheet. I’m most proud of the stuff that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, (also) knocking down open shots.”