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If the Denver Nuggets win an NBA championship, Christian Braun might become a member of an elite group.

In 36 years, the former Jayhawk might accomplish something no one else has.

There’s Christian Braun going to the NBA Finals. Braun and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in four games on Monday night to secure a trip to the 2023 NBA Finals. If Denver wins the championship, Braun will have the chance to become a member of an uncommon and extremely elite group of NBA players when The Finals start on June 1.

After the 1986–1987 campaign, Braun will be the first player to win both an NBA and an NCAA championship in back-to-back seasons if the Nuggets win it all. He’ll be the fifth player in history to accomplish that as well. Naturally, Braun was a major factor in KU basketball’s 2021–22 championship run. In his first NBA season, Braun has been a rotation player for the Nuggets, who had for the most part of the season appeared to be among the top teams in the league.

The other four players are: Magic Johnson (1978–79 CBB season with Michigan State and 1979–80 NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers); Bill Russell (1955–56 CBB season with San Francisco and 1956–57 NBA season with the Boston Celtics); Henry Bibby (1971–72 CBB season with UCLA and 1972–53 NBA season with the New York Nicks); and Billy Thompson (1985–86 CBB season with Louisville and 1986–87 NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers).

In the NBA, Braun enjoyed a successful rookie campaign. The Nuggets selected Braun No. 21 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft around this time last year, earning the Jayhawk the 19th player selected in the first round since Bill Self became head coach.

The 6-foot-7 guard has been a reliable component of Denver’s rotation in his first NBA season. He participated in 14 of Denver’s 15 postseason games in addition to playing in 76 of the team’s 82 regular season games. Braun played 15.5 minutes a game on average throughout the regular season. He averaged 4.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game when he was on the court. During the regular season, he shot 35.4 percent from three and 49.5 percent from the field. His minutes have decreased to 11.8 per game in the playoffs, and he is averaging 2.3 points on 42.9 percent shooting from the field.

Rewinding to his time at KU, Braun had a standout junior season in 2021–2022, his last year as a Jayhawk, earning him the title of All Big 12. This past season, the guard averaged 14.1 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the field, 54.5 percent from two, and 38.6 percent from three. He set career highs in points, field goal percentage, and 2-point %. Braun, however, produced more than just points; he also set career highs with 6.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

Braun participated in 101 games throughout his three-year KU basketball career. Braun played 28.5 minutes per game and finished with 10.1 points per game on 44.9 percent field goal and 37.8 percent three-point shooting. In addition, he would average 1.8 assists, five rebounds, and one steal each game.

Written by schooleiwa

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