Braun produced nine points and five rebounds in a season-high 25 minutes off of the bench in a 110-99 win at home over the Los Angeles Lakers. He went 4-of-6 from the field and gave the team a tremendous defensive effort on the court.
The 21st pick was matched up with LeBron James for part of the game, and held the Hall of Famer to 2-of-5 shooting from the field. He took the assignment on and didn’t back down from the challenge, something that impressed Malone.
You can talk about a lot of things in terms of what constitutes a good defender. I think the biggest part of it is the will, the want. Switching onto LeBron James, he is a rookie. He was in college last year hanging out at frat parties and he is out here not afraid. He is going to get scored on. He is going to make mistakes. He is in like an advanced program right now and he is excelling.
Braun logged less than two minutes of action in the season opener on Oct. 19. He then saw 22 minutes in their second game and filled up the stat sheet, recording four points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in a win over the Golden State Warriors.
Christian Braun leads the Nuggets’ bench in minutes for the second time in the last four games. Nine points on 4/6 shooting with some really solid defense. #milehighbasketball pic.twitter.com/cnnOTHXlar
— Brett Usher (@UsherNBA) October 27, 2022
He has since been one of the first players off the bench for Malone. He has quickly earned his trust given his energy and ability on both ends of the court. Braun is receptive to constructive criticism and has shown a willingness to want to improve.
The early showing by Braun has resonated with Malone.
He doesn’t look like he doesn’t belong and you can’t say that about a lot of rookies. I’m just so proud of the kid. He doesn’t blink. He doesn’t get rattled. He is really a cool-hand Luke — just calm, cool and collected. A fun kid to watch.
After starting off the season out of the rotation, Braun is quickly emerging as a key player off the bench for the Nuggets. It is hard to imagine a game in which Braun doesn’t play big minutes moving forward, a testament to his work ethic and ability on the court.
Denver returns to action on Friday with the Utah Jazz.
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