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2022 NBA Draft Prospect Profiles: Christian Braun

Will Memphis target some championship pedigree in the Draft?

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North Carolina v Kansas Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The prospect profiles continue on Grizzly Bear Blues. For more, visit the “Memphis Grizzlies 2022 Draft Coverage” group to see more of our profiles on draft prospects and their potential fits with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Christian Braun, Wing, Kansas

  • 6’7”, 6’6.5” wingspan, 209 pounds, 21 years old from Burlington, Kansas
  • Last season at Kansas: In 40 games (34.4 minutes per game) — 14.1 points on 49.5% shooting (38.6% from 3, 73.3% from the free throw line), 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1 steal
  • Three-year college career (all at Kansas): In 101 games (28.5 minutes per game) — 10.1 points on 44.9% shooting (37.8% from 3, 74.9% from the free throw line, 5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 steal
  • 3 STATS OF STRENGTH (per Tankathon): FG% (49.5% per 36), Def Box +/- (3.3), Rebounds (6.8 per 36)
  • 3 STATS TO IMPROVE (per Tankathon): Wingspan (-0.5 from height), Proj. NBA 3P% (34.7%), Draft Age (21)
  • AWARDS AND ACCOLADES: Mr. Kansas Basketball (2019), Big 12 All-Freshmen Team (2020), Second-team All-Big 12 (2022), NCAA champion (2022)
  • CURRENT BIG BOARD PLACEMENT: 26 (Tankathon), 33 (The Ringer), 30 (ESPN), 40 (CBS Sports), 39 (The Athletic), 38 (Bleacher Report)

Throughout his tenure as Grizzlies Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Zach Kleiman has had a certain type in the draft. At times he’s switched things up, but a majority of his selections have been productive college players who hustle and play hard. Kleiman has eyed players who have slipped mostly due to their age and/or physical limitations and found that they can be productive even if they aren’t teenagers coming out of college.

Christian Braun fits the Grizzlies “type” to a T. Braun was a productive player in his 3 seasons at Kansas, seeing his role increase in each season before capping off his Junior Year with a NCAA Championship. As mentioned above, some of Braun’s “weaknesses” are his wingspan and age. Recent draftees such as Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke are proof that Memphis does not care about the standard physical limitations that cause some teams to pass on otherwise productive players. On paper Braun would fit like a glove on this Memphis team, but does it make sense for Memphis to target Braun in the 2022 NBA Draft?

Areas of Strength

Villanova v Kansas Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Braun projects to be a solid 3-and0D player at the NBA level. He’s a solid on-ball defender despite not having a great wingspan. Instead he plays really hard and is a nuisance on the defensive end often annoying who he is guarding. Braun is pesky off-ball, always making the right rotations and is great at baiting opponents into bad passes and forcing turnovers. Braun is also strong enough to fight through screens on the defensive end and hold is own in one-on-one situations. What Braun lacks in freakish physical abilities, he makes up for with his IQ and hustle.

Braun was a little streaky with his 3-point shot at Kansas. He shot 32-72 (44.4%) his freshman year, dipped down to 34% on 153 attempts his sophomore season before evening out at 38.6% last season on 132 attempts. His role fluctuated at Kansas, but overall he shot 38.3% on catch-and-shoot 3’s so Braun figures to be at least an above average 3-point shooter at the NBA level. Braun is also a capable ball handler, able to lead the fastbreak and can be solid as a secondary facilitator while initiating the offense. Braun doesn’t hold onto the ball too long and makes good decisions with his passes.

Braun’s greatest strength is his ability to crash the boards, especially for a guy his size. He’s active on the glass and knows how to time his jumps on the offensive glass to finish putbacks and is able to fight through contact to do so. His energy and hustle helps set the tone for his team which should make him a fan favorite wherever he ends up.

Areas of Weakness

2022 NBA Draft Combine Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images

Braun’s efficiency at the NBA level will be something to watch. He struggled against some of the premier competition in college and has a relatively slow shooting form. He didn’t shoot off screens or handoffs much at Kansas, which would be something asked of him at the NBA level. He will likely struggle in isolation offense at the NBA level, as the size will probably impact his ability to really get to the rim. Joining one of the best floater teams in the NBA would help him develop that shot.

Braun is “old” as he’ll be 21 on draft night and doesn’t have elite wingspan but is fairly explosive and athletic. He likely won’t be a 20 points per game scorer and figures to be more of a complementary player so a team in search of a scorer might look elsewhere.

Fit with the Grizzlies

Braun would ultimately be a great fit in Memphis. He wouldn’t command a large role on either end and can focus on finishing catch-and-shoot 3-point opportunities on offense and disrupting passing lanes on defense. I wouldn’t expect him to take the leaps that Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke have done for Memphis, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he proved to be a really valuable bench piece capable of playing within the offense but knocking down shots.

Outside of Steven Adams, the Grizzlies typically rebound by committee and Braun would fit right in crashing the glass as a slightly taller John Konchar. Braun would also fit in nicely with the pass happy Grizzlies second unit able to make the extra pass when necessary.

Barring any major changes this offseason, Braun would figure to get a good amount of G League run to stay fresh, with no clear holes he could fill in the Grizzlies rotation. Once the Grizzlies have to make some tougher decisions on the wing, Braun could be the beneficiary with extra minutes in a couple of seasons.

For what it’s worth, it looks like Braun has worked out with the Grizzlies.

Ultimately, Braun would probably be a reach for Memphis at 22 but an excellent one if he’s available at 29. There are a bunch of really interesting players who figure to be available in the late first round with Braun being one of them.

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