Today, the Denver Nuggets held the first media availability for their three draft picks — Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, and Ismael Kamagate. It was the first time the media got to talk to the rookies as Denver Nuggets. On draft night, the Nuggets’ front office talked a lot about how this was a defensive minded draft. You can tell the sort of prospects they were looking for were hard nosed defenders. Ismael Kamagate was French league LNB Pro A’s defensive player of the year. In large part due to his shot blocking and rim protection, but also by being a mobile big who has switch ability to his game. Christian Braun was a defensive stopped for the 2022 National Champions, the Kansas Jayhawks. Peyton Watson is a project, but has all the tools necessary to be an All-Defensive sort of player.
Peyton Watson is bought in
They’re all very smart players and people as well. The Nuggets’ culture is built on hard work, and all of them brought up the fact they want to work hard. When asked if they would be willing to sit back and take time to develop, Peyton Watson said, “Absolutely, yeah. I think the common theme with all three of us sitting up here (Ismael Kamagate, Christian Braun, and himself) is that we’re all fighters. We’re all competitors. We all want to help our team in various ways. If that’s by pushing guys in practice every day, if that’s going to the G-League team and contributing there, or if that’s playing at the NBA level and helping us win games in an 82 game season, we’re all ready to do all of that.”
Peyton Watson is specifically someone who will need development, and it likely means time in the G-League. He’s more than open to it though, and will embrace whatever the Nuggets throw at him. He knows he’s raw, but has all the tools to be an asset the Nuggets have needed, an elite defender. There are question marks with him, and it’s fair to have them. However, he has the right mindset, developmental context, and tools to make it all work defensively. I’m in on Peyton Watson.
When asked what he thought the Nuggets initially liked about him during the draft process he said, “My length and athleticism. The energy I bring every time I step on the court. I think the biggest thing is the culture fit, you know? I’m gonna bring energy from day one. I’m going to represent the organization to the most, and never going to waste a moment here.”
He has an attitude and mentality to the game that will really catch on with the fans. It may take him a couple years to manifest into a rotation player, and he might just fizzle out — it won’t be for a lack of effort though.
Christian Braun Is A Winner
Christian Braun can be summed up in a quote from himself. When asked what drew the Nuggets organization to him during the draft cycle, he said “I think they just liked my winning mentality, my toughness. I’m a guy that wants to compete on both ends of the floor.”
That rings true if you watched him during Kansas. He is a competitor. Someone who won’t back down, and will make himself be heard. He’ll bark at other teams up and down the court. Even if he only has one three pointer and a block — you’ll hear about it. He brings an edge to the Nuggets that they haven’t really had in the Nikola Jokic era. About his mentality he said, “I’m just a super competitive person, no matter what it is. When I’m on the basketball court, I like to bring a certain personality, a certain passion to the rest of the teams I’ve played on.”
He will likely be competing for minutes in his rookie season, something that likely can’t be said for the other two. He’s a defensively oriented player with a fiery personality on the court. Expect him to compete in training camp for rotational minutes, he’s someone that Coach Malone will probably take a liking too.
The Rookies Will Work Hard
Peyton Watson and Christian Braun, as stated earlier, want to compete. They want to be guys who will come in and push themselves. They’ll get an opportunity to prove themselves this season. Ismael Kamagate, on the other hand, will be playing another year overseas and likely come over to play for the Nuggets after this season.
He also talked about working hard though, and his defensive prowess, “I think I’m going to show how we work, how it is to be here, to show our [work ethic] and our defense.”
All three rookies echoed similar ideas of what they want to bring to the table. It’s crystal clear what sort of players Calvin Booth and the Nuggets’ front office wanted in their building. Hard nosed defenders who will give effort no matter what. Nuggets fans should be excited to watch all of them this July in summer league, and for the future because it is bright for the Denver Nuggets.