Max Christie became a regular part of Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham’s rotation seven games ago. At first, the move was out of necessity, with Jarred Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vicent and Cam Reddish all out of the lineup. However, as the Lakers have gotten some of those players back, Christie has remained with regular minutes.
That is in large part because Christie is showing himself to be the player the Lakers were expecting him to become in his second NBA campaign. He flashed potential in very small doses during his rookie season, but the Lakers trusted in their scouting and felt a leap was coming in Year 2.
In 25.6 minutes per game over his last seven, Christie is not lighting up the scoreboard (8.1 points per game). However, his 46.7/37.5/85.7 shooting splits in that span is the mark of an efficient guard who can score at three levels.
Ham is liking what he’s seeing from Christie in Year 2, and sees him as having even more room to grow as he continues to get opportunities.
“I think he’s a well-balanced [player], albeit he’s still young as a second-year player, but he’s a well-balanced player on both sides of the ball. He can take on some tough matchups and hit his 3s, athletic, rebounds, can finish at the rim, great cutter, switches and is a great defensive rebounder. Just a variety of different things that are only gonna get better as he ages.”
The Lakers being able to turn to Christie so early in his career has not only helped this year’s team, but it could be hugely beneficial for future Lakers teams. Even if Christie doesn’t develop into a regular starter or more, having a quality rotation player under 21 years old to lean on is a huge development for L.A.
Once the Lakers are fully healthy — including Vincent — Christie’s minutes become a fascinating watch. But at this rate, it’s fair to say that the young guard has earned his time on the court.
Ham excited for In-Season Tournament quarterfinal
Next up for the Lakers is the quarterfinals against the Phoenix Suns. This will be the third time these two teams have squared off with now a bit more at stake with the winner of Tuesday’s game going to Las Vegas for the semifinals. Head coach Darvin Ham talks about if he is going to coach Tuesday’s game any differently, perhaps similarly to a playoff game.
“Nah, we try to coach hard every time out. Obviously there is a lot riding on it for the In-Season tourney. I’m actually super, duper excited to coach it, I’m always trying to have fun out there, but definitely, with it being the In-Season Tournament, it adds a little more juice to it. It’ll be a fun experience for sure.”
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