Christian Braun of the Denver Nuggets could become the fifth NBA player to win an NCAA national championship and an NBA championship in back-to-back years. The former Kansas Jayhawks guard would join Bill Russell, Henry Bibby, Magic Johnson, and Billy Thompson.
Russell won championships in the 1955-56 NCAA season with San Francisco and 1956-57 NBA season with the Boston Celtics. Next, Bibby won his titles in the 1971-72 NCAA season with UCLA and 1972-73 NBA season with the New York Knicks.
Additionally, Johnson won championships in the 1978-79 NCAA season with Michigan State and 1979-80 NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers. And Thompson won his titles in the 1985-86 NCAA season with Louisville and 1986-87 NBA season with the Lakers.
Per a few NBA betting sites, the Nuggets are the odds-on favorite to win the championship. Sportsbooks will show the Miami Heat with second-shortest odds, if the team manages to defeat the Celtics in the ECF.
Congrats to Christian Braun on advancing to the NBA Finals! pic.twitter.com/5F77fECyNk
— Jayhawks In The NBA (@NBA_Jayhawks) May 23, 2023
Christian Braun, 22, was selected 21st overall by the Nuggets in the 2022 NBA Draft. In 40 appearances with the Jayhawks of their 2021-22 NCAA championship season, the 6-foot-7 guard averaged college career highs of 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steal, and 34.4 minutes per game.
Braun led the Big 12 in minutes played (1,374) in the 2021-22 season. The Kansas native also finished third in his conference in points (564), and third in total rebounds (261).
Denver Nuggets rookie Christian Braun could become the fifth NBA player to win NCAA and NBA championships in back-to-back years, joining Bill Russell, Henry Bibby, Magic Johnson, and Billy Thompson
Plus, he ranked fifth in blocks (33), second in field goal percentage (49.5%), third in field goals (207), and second in win shares (2.0). Braun was then selected to the second-team All-Big 12.
Out of 76 appearances of his rookie 2022-23 NBA season, Christian Braun made six starts. During the regular season, he averaged 4.7 points, 2.4 boards, and 15.5 minutes per game. Not to mention, the guard shot 49.5% from the floor, 35.4% beyond the arc, and 62.5% at the foul line.
In Denver’s 128-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 5, Braun scored a season-high 19 points in 34 minutes as a starter. Along with logging five rebounds, one assist, and one block, he shot 7-of-10 (70%) from the field and drained two 3-pointers.
With the Nuggets advancing to the Finals last night, Christian Braun is now four wins away from becoming the fifth player in history to win an NCAA Championship and NBA Championship in back-to-back years 🤯#NBA #NBAPlayoffs #RockChalk pic.twitter.com/z5H4z77SQ4
— Rock Chalk (@gorockchalk) May 23, 2023
Through 14 games off the bench of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the guard is averaging 2.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 11.8 minutes per game. He’s shooting 42.9% from the floor and 60% at the foul line as well. In Denver’s 120-111 first-round win in Game 3 on Apr. 21, Braun tallied nine points in 14 minutes off the bench.
Furthermore, Christian Braun played basketball for Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kansas. As a senior, he averaged 27.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game, leading his team to a third straight Class 6A state title. He’s a championship magnet.