NBA Draft: Grading every first-round pick after rookie year

2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images /
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NBA Draft
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – FEBRUARY 11: Christian Braun #0 of the Denver Nuggets brings the ball up court against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on February 11, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

21. Denver Nuggets – Christian Braun, Kansas Jayhawks

The Denver Nuggets entered the 2022 offseason with their sites set on contending for a championship, and clearly they executed that vision. Part of that process included drafting two players in the first round, and their first pick when to a player coming off of a championship himself, Kansas wing Christian Braun.

He was a perfect fit for the Nuggets, as he is a cutter and slasher who excels moving off-ball; Nikola Jokic loves to hit those kinds of players with pinpoint passes, and Braun’s role only grew as the season went on. When you factor in his defensive intensity and the probability of league-average shooting or better, he looks like a future starter and longtime rotation player for winning teams.

Braun would probably leapfrog his college teammate Ochai Agbaji in a redraft, and it’s hard to point to a player who went later who should have gone higher than Braun in a redraft; the Nuggets are the team most excused for not taking Walker Kessler. This was an excellent selection that helped them to win a title this season. At pick No. 21, it’s hard to do much better.

Grade: B+