The Los Angeles Lakers selected Max Christie 35th overall in this year’s NBA Draft after purchasing a pick from the Orlando Magic. He has gotten plenty of time so far during the preseason to show why the Lakers have high hopes for him and is leading the team in minutes so far.
While his offensive game needs work, Christie has shown a lot of potential as a wing defender, doing an excellent job at forcing tough shots while also crashing the boards well. Lakers coach Darvin Ham has been impressed with the work Christie has already put in during the offseason but knows the rookie still has a ways to go in his development.
“I mean he’s really improved his body,” Ham said after the Lakers’ third preseason game. “He was rail thin when we first got him and now you’re starting to see a bit of little muscle mass, a little muscle definition. Kid has great touch, really athletic, one of the better athletes on the roster. He just has to keep working, just the little simple nuances of the game. His running habits, knowing how to run in space, and not be indecisive when it’s time to make a cut or it’s time to take a route over the top of the ball, and being strong with the ball.”
Some things can only be learned through experience and Christie will only continue to improve the more he plays. Even still, the tools are there and the Lakers will work hard to develop them and turn him into a great player. Christie got the start in the Lakers’ third preseason game and finished with a solid 11 points and 5 rebounds.
As Ham noted, Christie has already made some improvements to his body, and now the Lakers coach wants to see him put that strength to use when he attacks the basket.
“Going hard to the rim with strength, like you saw Lonnie Walker,” Ham added. “You look at those two and Lonnie obviously has more experience under his belt, but that’s how Max has to attack the basket when he’s getting in the paint, with an all-out reckless abandon.
“But all-in-all I like the progress that the kid is making. He’s has a lot of coaches and a lot of people on our performance team, and me personally, excited about his future. I think he’s gonna be a really, really good player. He’s a hard worker, great kid, great attitude, good focus, I think he’s gonna really, really do well and have a long career.”
You can not teach effort and desire, especially on the defensive end, and Christie has that already. As long as he continues to put in the work, the offense will come, but his defensive potential is what should make him a rotational player for years to come in the NBA.
Ham plans to explore different lineups throughout 2022-23 season
The idea of Christie getting regular minutes during the season seems far-fetched, but maybe not so much as Ham has plans on using all kinds of different lineups this year. Ham spoke about the idea not limiting himself during the year when it comes to rotations and lineups.
“But just in general with our team going through the season, we’ve assembled what I feel is a defensive-minded, really versatile group,” Ham noted. “And I want to be able to explore everything within it until I can’t, you know what I mean? The players are gonna let me know who I can play and who I can’t play and that’s what your practices are for, that’s what your shootarounds are for, that’s what preseason games are for as well as early on in the regular season. You kind of throw things at the wall and see what sticks and what fits.”
“So I’m not one that’s gonna limit myself to a seven or eight-man lineup throughout the season. I’m gonna use as many pieces as I possibly can that I have at my disposal to put together the best lineup we can possibly have, multiple lineups that we can use throughout the course of the game, especially through the course of different stretches of the season.”
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