At 6’6”, 218lbs, Christian Braun has the ability to become a strong role player at the wing in the NBA. In his third year at Kansas, Braun has shown the ability to work as a combo forward, scoring 14.1 points, grabbing, 6.5 rebounds, and dishing 2.8 assists per game. His contributions to the Jayhawks’ championship season earned him All-Big 12 Second Team honors and helped set him up for what could potentially be a late-first to mid-second round selection. As a wing with shooting, size, and solid defensive IQ, Braun stands as a draft night target that could contribute off Utah’s bench.
Per Game: 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks, 2.0 turnovers, 49.5/37.8/73.3 shooting splits
Advanced: 58.5% True Shooting, 9.0 box plus-minus (5.6 offensive, 3.3 defensive), 6.0 win shares, .174 WS/40
Physical: 21 years old, 6’6”, 218 pounds, wingspan undetermined (will update when measured)
Wings who shoot efficiently from three and play hard on both ends tend find their way onto NBA courts. Luckily for Braun, those stand as his two strongest skillsets. While not considered a deadeye from downtown, Braun’s nearly 38% shooting from deep stands as a good indicator that he could space the floor in the NBA. He shoots the ball confidently and isn’t afraid to take threes above the break, on the move, off the dribble, or a few feet behind the college arc. It should be noted that his release isn’t the quickest; he often dips the ball to his knees and doesn’t release very high. Still, Braun’s utility as a well-rounded shooter would help his transition to the NBA.
More importantly than that, last season, Braun showcased that he understands his role on the court. For Kansas, he often hustled on rebounds, ran the floor, and used his impressive basketball IQ to play good team defense. While not the greatest athlete, Braun still found ways to cause disruptions on defense, averaging nearly a block and a steal per game. He makes sound reads and often does a good job of finding himself in the right place at the right time. He knows his rotations (something the Jazz often struggled with last season) and would likely hold his own against slower wing players.
As mentioned above, Braun isn’t a fantastic athlete. Although his basketball IQ helps mitigate the effects of that, he still gets beat by quicker or larger players. His lateral quickness isn’t amazing and his wingspan isn’t incredible. When switched onto quick guards, Braun doesn’t have the speed to stay in front or the length to recover from behind. Entering the NBA, this will stand as his biggest question mark: can he find a way to not get beat off of 1-4 switches? If he can’t, finding time on the floor will be difficult.
Outside of that, Braun’s largest deficiencies as a player come with his effectiveness as an off the dribble creator. While he has a solid step-back three in his bag, his isolation skillset leaves much to be desired. As a driver, Braun struggles to get past sound defenders and faces difficulties when challenged by good shot blockers. His court awareness helps him make the occasional good pass while attacking the basket, but I wouldn’t expect him to do much of that in the NBA. Even so, I expect that the increased length and athleticism in the NBA will serve as an immediate challenge for him.
Off of his basketball IQ and shooting alone, I think that Christian Braun has the ability to contribute to any team in the league, the Utah Jazz included. In ways, Braun reminds me of Royce O’Neale; he shoots the ball well, plays hard, and can stand as a plus defender if he doesn’t face quick guards. Yet the Jazz are in dire need of elite athleticism, something Braun lacks. It would be a solid fit, but given that the Jazz don’t have any of their draft picks this year, it would likely take a move into the late first-round for them to have a shot at him.
It should be noted that Braun has recently risen quickly on NBA draft boards. His strong NCAA Tournament performance caught the eyes of many scouts and boosted his draft stock.
Royce O’Neale, Wesley Matthews
All statistics from sports-reference.com