Christian Braun’s Blue Valley Northwest basketball teams won three Kansas Class 6A state championships during his four years in high school.
His teams at the University of Kansas cut the nets in one of his three seasons in college.
The 6-foot-7, 218-pound, 21-year-old Burlington, Kansas native can’t guarantee he’ll be on another title team with the franchise that takes him to the NBA Draft on Thursday night . The athletic shooting fullback, however, can assure his future employer 100% effort towards that goal.
“Winning at all levels is obviously a plus,” Braun said when asked to reveal his strengths during a recent appearance on the March Madness 365 podcast. “Winners are rewarded. If you win games, the pie is big enough for everyone, says coach (Bill Self).
“Everything is a process. This next step in my career, I’m going to pursue the same thing I did in college and high school,” Braun added as he did everything he could to win NBA championships during what he hopes to be a long professional career.
The KU Self coach, who will be in New York to support Braun and Ochai Agbaji, who will both attend the draft, says he is confident Braun, who averaged 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season for the 2022 KU National Championship team, will hear his name called in the first round.
The draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, begins at 7 p.m. central time. The first round will air on ABC and ESPN, the second on ESPN.
Appreciating his coach’s support and aware that various fictional drafts have also included him in their first round projections, Braun insisted in a recent interview that he was “not too worried about it”.
“I tried to improve, make sure I’m ready to play at this level,” said Braun, who after declaring himself for the draft on April 24, attended the NBA Combine and worked for several NBA teams, including Indiana and the Los Angeles Clippers, in recent weeks.
“Obviously you want to make sure your skills are at that level and make sure you’re as prepared as possible. Hopefully you get the right person, to prolong your career as long as possible,” Braun added.
Braun has a good idea of what he will bring to an NBA team after playing three seasons at KU.
“I think about intangible things. I think I bring a lot of things that impact winning on different levels – scoring the ball; diving to the ground, recovering a lot of lost balls, playing defense. I think I can bring a bit of everything from my first year in the league,” Braun said.
“I think I bring personality, doing things other people don’t want to do,” he added. “It’s something I’ve done throughout my career. Just being me, doing the things that kind of brought me to Kansas. That’s what I’m proud of… doing little things that aren’t always pretty. I’m most proud of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. (also) knocking down open shots.
Self acknowledges that Braun “was our best loose ball guy. He will definitely give up his body to try and get possession. He does that a lot. It makes any coach happy when his players do that. CB has gone from being a guy who was a stationary shooter to impacting the game in way more ways than that.
Braun adapts perfectly to the sportiest players in the NBA.
He was third of all NBA Combine players in maximum vertical jump (40 inches) while tied for third in standing vertical jump (33.5 inches). It has a wingspan of 6 feet 6 1/2 and a standing span of 8-3 1/2.
“I think we talked a lot about being a sneaky athlete. I think people have called me that in my career,” Braun said. “I think I showed that I was a real athlete, an elite athlete (at the Combine) with my vertical in particular. Obviously, I’m confident in my jumping abilities, probably overconfident sometimes.
Various analysts have differing opinions on which teams are most interested in acquiring Braun. San Antonio, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Denver, and Indiana have been mentioned as possible landing spots in various draft simulations.
Sporting News recently wrote that Braun would be Denver’s final first-round pick.
“The Nuggets acquired this pick from the Thunder and I could see them targeting depth on the wings – especially with shooters and cutters – to complement Nikola Jokic,” TSN’s Kyle Irving wrote.
“Braun is the type of 3-D player who could excel playing under a playmaker of Jokic’s caliber. He has great cutting instincts and rebounds at high levels. He has knocked down 38% of his threes during his three seasons at Kansas and was a key cog in their national championship last year Braun does all the little things to help a team and the Nuggets could use a player who plays winning basketball like he does as they seek to compete immediately when they return to full strength next season.
Self thinks the team that takes Braun will be satisfied.
“I think he’s a first-round talent. He just has to fit on the right team,” Self said.