Nuggets rookie Christian Braun shines in Summer League debut – The Denver Post


LAS VEGAS – Barely one minute into the Nuggets’ Summer League debut, Christian Braun made clear why Denver deemed him worthy of their initial first-round pick.

The Nuggets corralled a defensive rebound, and as two-way guard Collin Gillespie sped up the floor, Braun took off running into space. Gillespie lofted a pass over a Minnesota defender from well beyond the 3-point line, and Braun rose up, caught the pass at its peak, and hammered a two-handed alley-oop for his first basket as a pro.

“He’s a really easy guy to play with,” Gillespie said.

In one promising sequence, Braun flashed his willingness to run-out, highlighted his ability in transition and flexed his athleticism. All three were strengths of his in college that caught Denver’s attention. There are worse ways to start an NBA career, or make an impression on Nuggets coach Michael Malone, who sat courtside at the Cox Pavilion while assistant coach Ryan Bowen handled head coaching duties.

Minnesota won 85-78 in the exhibition affair.

Malone sat with a handful of current players, including Bones Hyland and newly-signed wing Bruce Brown and joked with Jamal Murray during timeouts.

Brown was in town to sign his new 2-year deal with Denver, while Hyland and Murray were there supporting the Summer League squad. Shortly after tip-off, Michael Porter Jr. showed up, too, there for his brother, Jontay, who was debuting with the Nuggets’ Summer League roster. MPJ sat next to Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young, his good friend from his AAU days.

“I love seeing (Jontay) out here,” Porter told The Post. “Seeing him get up and down, seeing him being able to play and do some good things out there. He’s a really, really good player when healthy.”

Jontay knocked down two 3-pointers in 14 quality minutes.

As the game wore on, Braun’s impact trickled into even more aspects of the Nuggets’ outfit. He called out defensive coverages on one end, and then shot the ball with confidence on the other. It’s easy to see why Malone said he could envision him contributing next season. While none of his skills jump off the charts, none of them are obvious weaknesses, either.

“I’m not a guy that needs a play called for me, I’m not a guy that needs somebody to do something to boost my confidence, to boost my energy,” Braun said.

Braun finished with a team-high 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting.


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