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Kansas' Christian Braun 'excited' to join Nuggets, chase another championship

Denver Nuggets guard Christian Braun, second from left, holds up his jersey for a photo with his brothers Parker, left, and Landon, right, and mother, Lisa, after being introduced to the media during a news conference on June 27, 2022, in Denver.

Christian Braun isn't willing to stop at one championship.

The former Kansas guard, drafted with the 21st pick by the Denver Nuggets last week, feels especially motivated to chase a title in the NBA given the Jayhawks' success last season.

And he might get to do that sooner than later considering the success the Nuggets have had over the last four years.

"They're in a spot where they're ready to win now," Braun said Monday, when he was introduced alongside fellow rookies Peyton Watson and Ismael Kamagate at a news conference in Denver. "We've got a two-time MVP (in Nikola Jokic). We've got a lot of really good pieces around us in Denver, so I'm excited that we're in a spot that we can compete for a championship right away."

Braun and former teammate Ochai Agbaji became the most recent Kansas players to enter the NBA ranks when they heard their names called during the draft on Thursday.

Agbaji, who was chosen by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 14th pick, joins a team that is in the latter stages of a rebuild and should play a rather significant role from the start of the season.

That's not as true with Braun and the Nuggets, who have finished first or second in the Northwest Division in each of the last four years. Although players drafted in Braun's range typically at least earn modest playing time during their rookie seasons, first-year general manager Calvin Booth told reporters after the draft on Thursday, and again during a news conference on Friday, that Braun is "taking up" a roster spot and is "going to give himself a chance" in his first season.

"He's a guy we identified pretty early in the process as a guy that we might want to draft," Booth said. "We felt he might have two-way potential. He brought great energy. I think he's going to bring great size as a guard. He can handle, playmake and rebound. I think the sky's the limit ... so I'm really excited about his future. I think he has the right approach and he's going to try to earn time, and hopefully, he can hit the court sooner rather than later."

Booth's skepticism is in slight contract to the outlook of Nuggets vice president of scouting Jim Clibanoff, who was visibly excited about adding Braun in an interview with Altitude Sports after the draft on Thursday.

"An NBA-ready guy," Clibanoff said. "Winner. Played 40 minutes in the national championship game. Checks many, many boxes. Great body. Plays hard. Big (confidence). He's just — we search for guys like this."

Booth figures Braun will be a shooting guard in the NBA, which means he'll likely compete with Bones Hyland, a first-round pick last season, to back up Will Barton. What makes Braun appealing to the Nuggets are his size and length, his willingness to rebound and his desire to play defense.

"I think I can guard multiple positions, and I think in the league, that's something that's very important right now," Braun said. "You see a lot of teams do a lot of switching. A lot of teams switch one through four, and I'm a guy that's pretty versatile and a guy that's tough and willing to do those things."

Braun, who was introduced Monday with a jersey featuring No. 0, should wear it for the first time next month when the Nuggets participate in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Training camp will begin in late September, when Braun will join Jokic and potentially Jamal Murray, who is still recovering from a torn ACL, as Denver takes another shot at winning a championship.

"There's a lot of pieces on this team that we get to learn from," Braun said. "I'm just excited to get out there and compete and win and soak in everything that I can."

Comments

Andy Godwin

I hope Mr. Braun is working on getting his shot off quicker or he may struggle early. "Taking up" a roster spot is not a ringing endorsement by the general manager. Clearly, Christian will have a steep learning curve to be successful at the next level and gain playing time on an already competitive team; however, he has the self-confidence and drive to ultimately prove most people wrong. Rock Chalk.

1 month, 1 week ago

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