There weren’t a ton of positives to take away from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss on Monday night to the Denver Nuggets, but one of the biggest was the play of rookie second-round pick Max Christie.
Christie made his first career start in place of LeBron James, who sat out the contest and the Lakers rookie looked completely comfortable. Christie hit 6-of-8 shots from the field including 2-of-3 from 3-point range to finish with a career-high 14 points and three rebounds.
The 19-year-old rookie is already making an impression in the locker room as well with his teammates showing a lot of belief in him. Kendrick Nunn spoke about Christie following the Nuggets game, calling the rookie special and praising the work he puts in, via NBA.com:
“Max is special. He’s a sponge too. He listens, he plays hard he competes, so that’s always a gift to have as a rookie, coming into this league. I think he’s doing everything the right way. His approach has been good, his mentality has been good every day. He puts in work, he’s a hard worker and he looks good out there.”
Christie is the type of player this Lakers roster is sorely in need of, a true 3-and-D wing who can hit open shots and guard the opposing team’s best player. Head coach Darvin Ham has already been giving him some reps in big moments, playing crunch time minutes on a couple of occasions including against Washington when he was tasked with guard All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
His length, athleticism and IQ have allowed him to make things difficult on the player he’s guarding, but what has been a bit more surprising is his shooting. Christie’s struggles from deep in college are what caused his draft stock to fall, but so far he is shooting 43.9 percent from 3-point range as a rookie. While that number is unsustainable, Christie shooting at an above-average level could be the key to him forcing his way into the rotation.
The Lakers have continually found gems in the second round of the draft and Christie looks to be the latest find by the scouting department.
Darvin Ham believes Lakers are trending in the right direction
The Lakers’ loss to the Nuggets on Monday night was their first in some time as they had won five straight games before that. At the halfway point of the season, the Lakers now sit at 19-22 and right in the thick of teams battling for the playoffs.
Head coach Darvin Ham believes his team is trending in the right direction at the season’s midpoint. Though he lamented a handful of losses he described as ‘self-inflicted,’ Ham likes what he is seeing from his team in terms of their togetherness and accountability and believes they will continue to grow.
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