Even before selecting youngster Max Christie 35th overall in this year's draft, the Lakers' goal was to acquire a player who may be a long-term contributor to the organization. The scouting department, led by Lakers associate general manager and co-owner Jesse Buss, sought a player that exemplified the modern style of basketball and had exceptional shooting skills, size, athleticism, defense, and length.
Christie had been on Buss' radar since 2019 when the Michigan State product stood out and won a gold medal with the USA's U16 squad at the FIBA Americas. Three years later, the 19-year-old was regarded as one of the finest shooters in his rookie class and had solid two-way potential at the NBA Draft Combine that Buss couldn't pass up.
Buss revealed in a recent 1-on-1 interview with Lakers.com's Mike Trudell that the Lakers chose to gamble on Christie's long-term development because they believe Christie will thrive under Darvin Ham's system and visions for the present and future.
With several wings injured, the rookie put up an impressive performance
This season, Lakers fans have caught a peek of what Max Christie can do, and on Monday, he took it up another notch after making his first NBA start against the Denver Nuggets.
The rookie entered the season playing 13.5 minutes per game while averaging 3.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 0.6 assists per game on 41.4% shooting.
While LeBron James, Austin Reaves, and Lonnie Walker IV were out with injuries on Monday, the former Michigan State guard stood up to the plate and came prepared even in the eleventh hour.
Lakers reporter Mike Trudell tweeted out Christie's reaction to the news.
“Max Christie said he was told about 40 minutes before the game that he’d be getting his first start. His first action was to excitedly text his mom.”
His mother had to be proud of her kid after such an excellent performance. Even with less than an hour till tip-off, the 19-year-old did not back down. It didn't appear to bother him at all. Christie had a career-high night despite the team's 122-109 loss.
Christie scored 14 points in 26 minutes, shooting 6-for-8 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. He also grabbed three rebounds and provided one assist.
The rookie showed a lot of promise. Christie will have more time to show himself with Reaves and Walker IV out for at least another week. It will get better for him as he accumulates more minutes and starts.