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NBA Draft 2022: What Lakers are getting in Max Christie

By John Fanta
FOX Sports College Basketball Writer

For the primary time since some man named Magic Johnson again in 1979, the Los Angeles Lakers drafted a Michigan State Spartan.

L.A. traded into the draft final Thursday, sending a future second-round decide and money to Orlando for the No. 35 decide. They used it to pick Max Christie.

Just the fourth one-and-done participant in Spartans program historical past, Christie was regarded as a possible lottery decide in the 2023 draft had he determined to return for his sophomore season, making the 19-year-old a doubtlessly precious choice by Rob Pelinka and his staff. That mentioned, Christie may need a few years to develop, making him a curious match for a corporation that’s attempting to win now and to get youthful round LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

There’s no query that Christie is a mission, however he presents upside nearer to being a first-round expertise due to his 6-foot-6 measurement, robust taking pictures mechanics and succesful protection. Christie is admittedly lengthy, presenting a 6-foot-9 wingspan and an 8-foot-7 standing attain. 

The Lakers’ entrance workplace, which was in uncommon full consensus on choosing Christie, is betting that he’ll construct up energy in his physique and that the sport will decelerate for him. There’s a perception that Christie’s 38% mark from the sector and 31% clip from 3 at Michigan State is just not a real indicator of his taking pictures potential.

Tom Izzo on Max Christie changing into a whole participant

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo talked about Max Christie’s development as a whole participant final season.

Hall of Fame Spartans coach Tom Izzo strengthened all through this previous season how nice a defender Christie is and mentioned he introduced intangibles past his years. The Chicago child’s efforts on the defensive finish of the ground led the previous McDonald’s All-American to garner All-Big Ten Freshman Team honors.

Pelinka’s mindset? He didn’t wish to choose a veteran faculty participant who has already hit his ceiling. 

“I believe the improper factor to do in the draft is to only say, ‘We need to get this guy who can play for us right now.’ That’s when you can also make huge errors,” mentioned the Lakers’ vice chairman of basketball operations. “We needed to take the participant that we thought might assist our staff in the present, current time however actually turn into one thing particular. We assume Max Christie has that DNA.”

The improvement of Christie comes down to 1 foremost factor: physicality. You cannot look too far into his numbers from his freshman season: 9.3 factors, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per sport. As one scout mentioned, “his taking pictures stroke and athleticism are so clean.” The offensive ability set is current.  

Where expertise evaluators are very conflicted is his lack of bodily and psychological maturity.  

“I get the concept of him as a 6-foot-6 shooter with high-level really feel, however the lack of bodily and psychological toughness could possibly be an excessive amount of for him to beat,” mentioned one scout who offered his nameless opinion of Christie.  

Pelinka and the Lakers see it otherwise.  

“When we plug him into Darvin Ham and Chris Jent, the developmental coaches we are going to have, he’s going to show into a extremely good shooter,” mentioned Pelinka. “He’s obtained lovely contact on the ball, nice arch and rotation on his shot. He’s a twitchy athlete with a extremely distinctive floater sport, can end across the basket and will get into the paint.” 

L.A. hopes that Christie can undergo the same developmental rise that the group’s seen in 2019 second-round draft decide Talen Horton-Tucker, who signed a three-year, $32 million deal in the 2021 offseason.

Patience will likely be wanted for Christie, however the potential is there for him to be a 3-and-D wing in the NBA. Expect him to be with the South Bay Lakers subsequent season, because the group’s improvement workers goals to construct up his physique for the NBA degree.

John Fanta is a nationwide faculty basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports. He covers the game in a wide range of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to offering commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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