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2022 NBA Draft: Nuggets Draft Grades

The Nuggets drafted two rookies, how good are they and how good did the Nuggets do?

NBA: Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In the weeks leading up to the 2022 NBA Draft, there were a ton of rumors and speculation that the Nuggets would make a trade for a veteran wing. When the Nuggets traded Jamychal Green and a future first for pick 30 in this draft, it was assumed it would be used as a sweetener in a trade. Instead, the Nuggets ended up with Christian Braun from the Kansas Jayhawks at pick 21, Peyton Watson from the UCLA Bruins at pick 30, and Ismael Kamagate from Paris at pick 46.

Three rookies is an outcome that not many people were expecting. Ismael Kamagate is likely a draft and stash pick, but the other two will be on the Nuggets roster right away. It could be considered disappointing that the Nuggets didn’t make a trade, and I’d subscribe to that theory. This was the time to be aggressive and make win now moves. Instead, the Nuggets took three rookies.


Christian Braun - 21st Overall

NBA: Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Braun is what I consider the pick of the night. The Kansas product is a hard nosed defender who provides spacing as well. 3 and D wings are all the rage, and he projects to be a pretty good one. At 6’7” he has a good height for a shooting guard. He has good athleticism too. He’s a monster dunker in transition, runs the floor well, and is a legit lob threat. Within the Nuggets’ offensive system he’s a near seamless fit. He won’t be creating many shots in isolation, but there isn’t much he does bad. On defense, he has good rotations, defends well in isolation, and is fundamentally sound. He is a pain in the butt for opposing teams — he’s a trash talker, and has an attitude on the court. One of the few question marks with him is a negative wingspan. He only has a 6’6” wingspan, but he plays with enough physicality to cover it up. Overall, it’s a good pick. He’s a 3 and D wing with some dog in him.


Peyton Watson - 30th Overall

NBA: Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This pick was the head scratcher of the night. With the 30th overall pick, the Nuggets selected Peyton Watson. He is an incredibly raw player and didn’t get a ton of playing time with the Bruins. He was incredibly inefficient as both a shooter and finisher. Peyton Watson shot only 35.1% at the rim this past season at UCLA. He shot 32.2% from the field and 22.6% from beyond the three point arc. Offensively, there was nothing that he did at a high level. He was a bad finisher, shooter, playmaker and didn’t have many flashes on that end of the court. Defensively is where he stood out, and even then it wasn’t anything too absurd. He’s a toolsy defender who was fairly solid, but he’s still raw on that end. Calvin Booth in a interview after the draft stated that the Nuggets think he could be an all-defensive sort of player. I wouldn’t go that far, but he should be an above average defender. The Nuggets took a swing, and I think it’ll be a strikeout.


Ismael Kamagate - 46th Overall

2022 NBA Draft Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The final pick Denver made was when they traded a 2024 second round pick for the 46th overall pick. With the pick the Nuggets selected Paris Basketball center Ismael Kamagate. He will be stashed in Europe for the next season. However, once he comes over he has a shot to be one of the best second round picks in this year’s draft. His shot blocking is impressive, and he is mobile enough to have some switchability to his game. His defense is well-rounded and with another year in Europe to work on his fouling — he should be a pretty damn good defender next season. He also gives the Nuggets an athletic roll man to look forward to on their bench. This was a good pick.


Verdict

Denver had a couple picks that were pretty good, and one that was pretty bad. It was clear that Denver targeted mainly defensive guys. All of Braun, Watson, and Kamagate are defensive focused prospects. Braun will be able to help right away, and they took an upside swing with Watson. Though Kamagate is a stash, he’s a pretty good pick for a future backup center. Braun and Kamagate were good picks. They weren’t sexy picks, but they will get their jobs done. They will be productive role players for the Nuggets, and future staples in their rotation. Watson on the other hand will take a lot of development and time. Likely spending much of next season on the Grand Rapids Gold roster. Personally, I think it’s the wrong move. There were better swings available on the board and I would’ve liked to see a veteran wing be acquired.

Final Grade: C