Michigan State’s shooting guard Max Christie officially began his professional career after the 19-year-old was selected 35th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the 2022 NBA draft.
Christie gets one of the two most historic franchises in NBA history with the Lakers, which is tied with the Boston Celtics for the most NBA championships in league history with 17 titles. In Los Angeles, Christy will be interacting with the likes of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and more.
“This is amazing. It’s surreal,” Christie told reporters at Draft. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony – I mean, the list goes on. There are a lot of great players on the Lakers team. I think I can learn a lot and get better in this organization.”
Christie is also the first player from Michigan State to be drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers since Magic Johnson was first overall in 1979. Former Spartan Anthony Miller was also drafted by Golden State in 1994 and then traded to the Lakers on draft day.
“One thing that will be good for me is time,” Christie told reporters at the NBA draft in May of this year. “I’m only 19 years old and I think a few years in the NBA system will really help me grow and improve over time. The team that is ready to do this, the resources that have been implemented and what has been done in recent years, contribute to this for me.”
Christie, a former five-star recruit from Rolling Meadows, Illinois, became only the fourth player in Michigan men’s basketball history to declare himself in the NBA draft after his first season. He joined Zach Randolph, Deionta Davis and Jaren Jackson Jr. as Spartan one-nighters.
The 6-foot-6, 190-pound freshman started all 35 games he played for MSU, averaging 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks. for Michigan State in the 2021-22 season. He led the Spartans in minutes played with a score of 30.8 per game.
Christie struggled to shoot effectively in his only season with the Spartans, shooting 38.2% from the floor and 31.7% from three-point range. However, the freshman made 82.4 percent of his shots from the free throw line.
While Christy had a solid freshman campaign at East Lansing, the former five-star and 20th overall player in the 2021 recruiting cycle didn’t quite live up to the high expectations placed on him in his only collegiate season. This gave hope that Christie would return to Michigan State for a second season, but after an NBA review at the combine, the junior classes decided to stay in the 2022 draft.
“It may not have been reflected last year, but I think I know and I think everyone knows that I shoot better than what I produced,” Christie said at the mill. “I’m not really bothered by the numbers that have come in – I’m a better shooter and I’m going to be a better shooter in the NBA.”
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Head coach Tom Izzo regularly praised Christie’s defensive abilities, often stating that the freshman was a better defensive player than he and his staff expected him to be when they hired him.
Christie’s freshman campaign in Michigan got off to a good start. In the first three months of the 2021–2022 season, he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times. At the end of the season, Christie was named to the Big Ten freshman team.
But playing more than 30 minutes a night and often defending the opposing top scorer took a toll on Christie as his performance steadily declined in February. He only shot 23.9 percent on three-point attempts in February and March.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas called Christie a “valuable pick” for the No. 25 Lakers, and despite Christie struggling with his throw, Bilas praised the freshman for a “really good throw” with a high release.
“I’d say he’s a solid defender, so you’d look at him as another 3-and-D guy,” Bilas said. “He was a little off-balance last year, but he has a lot of potential. I think if he went back to school we would talk about him as first round pick next year. a little time to develop, and he will have it when he moves to the Lakers.
Christie becomes the 23rd player to be drafted from Michigan State since Tom Izzo took over in 1995. He is the first Spartan drafted since Xavier Tillman and Cassius Winston came out in the second round in 2020. Michigan State hasn’t had a first-round player since Jaren Jackson Jr. in 2018.
Moments after Christie was selected 35th overall, former Michigan State star, four-time NBA champion Draymond Green weighed in with the Lakers’ second-round pick:
“Another 35th pick from Michigan,” Green wrote. “History says he’s going to be an All-Star.”
The 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year was selected 35th overall in the same year by the Golden State Warriors. In 2020, Tillman was also drafted 35th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Michigan State alumni Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham Jr. are hoping to be drafted or signed by free agents on draft night.