Big 12 Basketball

Christian Braun Wins NBA Title One Year After Kansas Title

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Kansas

Christian Braun is an NBA champion with the Denver Nuggets, one year after claiming a national championship ring with the Kansas Jayhawks.

Braun and the Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat, 94-89, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night, giving the Nuggets a 4-1 series victory.

 

Braun — who wrapped up his rookie season after the Nuggets took him in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft — finished Game 5 with seven points and three rebounds in 24 minutes, one of only two Nuggets to play more than 10 minutes off the bench.

He became the fifth player in history to win an NCAA Tournament title and an NBA title in consecutive seasons. He joins Bill Russell (1956 San Francisco; 1957 Boston Celtics), Henry Bibby (1972 UCLA; 1973 New York Knicks), Magic Johnson (1979 Michigan State, 1980 L.A. Lakers) and Billy Thompson (1986 Louisville; 1987 L.A. Lakers).

His former college coach, Bill Self, just happened to be in attendance in Denver on Monday.

In the regular season, Braun averaged just 4.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. He played in 76 games and he made six starts.

He made a splash in Game 3 of the NBA Finals when he scored 15 points in 19 minutes, including a coast-to-coast dunk off a steal.

Braun helped the Jayhawks win their second national championship under coach Bill Self — and the program’s fourth NCAA Tournament championship overall — in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, where the Jayhawks defeated North Carolina in the title game.

Braun, as a junior, averaged 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game in his final season, all of which were career-highs. Braun was considered one of the best rebounding and defensive guards in the Big 12.

 

In the Jayhawks’ semifinal win over Villanova, he became the 65th player to score at least 1,000 point for his career. He was named to the NCAA Tournament All-Midwest Region Team, the All-Big 12 Tournament team and All-Big 12 Second Team honors.

In 2020-21, his sophomore season, Braun emerged as a full-time starter and earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors after he made 52 3-point field goals and averaged 9.7 points.

As a freshman in 2019-20, Braun averaged 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game coming off the bench in Big 12 play and earned All-Big 12 Freshman team honors. He scored 10 or more points in five games and led Kansas in steals three times.

Matthew Postins can be found on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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