Max Christie - Lakers 22 NBA Draft

Lakers Focus Draft on Developing Young Talent

The unofficial start of a new season began for the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night in Brooklyn after they drafted Max Christie with the 35th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Hours before the start, the Lakers had zero picks entering the night. L.A. would have selected eighth overall in Thursday’s draft but traded away those rights as part of the Anthony Davis deal with New Orleans in 2019. Additionally, the Purple and Gold also held the 38th overall pick but San Antonio earned the rights following league transactions.

That all changed as the team picked up the 35th overall pick and sent a 2028 second-round pick and cash considerations to the Orlando Magic.

“We talked about intentionally getting younger and the chance to get into the top of the second round was something we strategically had on our board that we wanted to accomplish,” Vice President of Business Ops Rob Pelinka said on the move. “Our scouts have an incredible track record of finding guys in the second round that we can develop.”

Five picks into the second round, the freshman out of Michigan State heard his name called.

“It’s amazing, it’s surreal,” Christie expressed after being selected. “LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony – the list goes on. A bunch of great names, a bunch of great players on the Lakers team. I think I can learn a lot and get a lot better in that organization.”

The 6’6” guard averaged 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 30.8 minutes/game and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

Christie highlighted his ability to make shots and knock down threes was not displayed to his full protentional last season, but believes, “have a little bit of a reset coming into the NBA” will allow him to display his talent at a better level.

Prior to his lone season with the Spartans, Christie played high school ball at Rolling Meadows High School, about 30 minutes north of Chicago. In his senior season, Christie averaged 24 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks per game and led Rolling Meadows to a 15-0 record, captured the Mid-Suburban League title, and was named the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year, the News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year, and the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year.

Christie was a consensus five-star recruit and was rated one of the top players in the country. He ranked 12th in the ESPN Top-100, was the No. 3-ranked shooting guard, and was a 2021 McDonald’s All-American. Christie was also named to the rosters for the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit.

Pelinka added Christie’s “high character” and “grit” from playing under Tom Izzo as part of what drew the team to selecting him.

“Max was a consensus pick,” Pelinka illustrated. “If he had chosen to go back to school, you’re talking about a guy that could have easily been a top 15-20 pick in the 2023 draft. So, to be able to get a player like that and develop him with the 35th pick is rare and we’re really proud of that.”

In addition to selection of Christie, the team agreed to two-way contracts with Cole Swider (Syracuse) and Scotty Pippen Jr. (Vanderbilt).

“Swider has the ability to stretch the floor and he showed that at Syracuse,” Pelinka noted. “He’s 6’9” and a player like that can step in and help us on the two-way. Scotty Pippen Jr. is a tenacious, defensive-minded kid that is going to compete, and he really changed the complexity of camp. We loved his attitude when he came and worked out.”

Pelinka added that all three players can add a fresh energy in what the team can do once camp opens.

“We have to get younger,” Pelinka emphasized. “We have to start developing players. Last year we saw the impact of Stanley Johnson, Wenyen Gabriel, and Austin Reaves. I think the wrong thing to do in the draft is to get a guy who can play in the NBA right now. That’s when you can make big mistakes. We want players to help in the present time but can develop into something special.”