Lakers News: Max Christie Highlights Defensive Improvement In First Two Summer League Games
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

After the first two NBA Summer League games at the California Classic in San Fransisco, the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten on to an outstanding start. Not only have the Lakers won their first two games in blowout fashion, but L.A’s rookie draft pick Max Christie has begun to get accustomed to the toughness of the NBA and what it demands.

Christie’s draft profile labeled him as a versatile 3-and-D player who carries plenty of upside. Heading into the Summer League as the No. 35 overall pick, the relentless effort the Michigan State guard has displayed has been a good first impression for the Laker faithful.

Funny enough, the comparisons between him and former NBA player Doug Christie have already sprouted, and it is not due to just their last names.

Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy has already set the expectations for the 6-foot-5-inch guard. Expectations that match and can hopefully surpass the game of Doug Christie.

“More talking about players, he said he reminds me a lot of Doug Christie,” Christie said. “Kind of ironic the same last name, but I reminded him a lot of him. He’s versatile and obviously was a good defender for the Kings and his whole career, so he reminds me of him. But for these two games, he’s telling me to give as much effort as I can and learn. So like improvement from first game to second game for me personally I thought was really really good. I felt more comfortable and I think I defended really well for both games so that is always the goal.”

As a 19-year-old rookie, seeing what the NBA competition is truly like can be intimidating. In Sunday nights’ win against the Golden State Warriors, Christie put on an all-around performance by tallying up eight points, six rebounds and having the highest plus-minus on the team with a plus-20.

With Christie already getting adjusted on how NBA defenses will defend him, his effort on the defensive end guarding NBA-experienced players has started to take shape. Despite the intimidation factor, Christie remains locked in on getting better to match the professional competition:

“I mean they’re NBA players so obviously they’re a lot better. They got more skills and the floor is bigger so they have more space to operate. At the end of the day I think I am a good enough defender to guard anybody especially as I get better and I’ll be able to guard better players and superstars and I got my first take of Moses Moody like you said a former lottery pick so it was good you know to get a little taste of him and um and defend him as hard as I could.”

Heading into Tuesday night;s game against the Sacramento Kings, Christie can hopefully continue to ride the momentum of learning the NBA landscape during his first Summer League so far.

Facing off against another Pacific division rival brings high stakes within itself, but now Christie has a chance to put on a show and confirm his comparisons to Doug Christie against the latter’s former team before heading to Las Vegas to finish off the summer.

Phil Handy Doubles Down on Max and Doug Christie Comparisons

Comparing NBA rookies to a former or current NBA player can be fun and not always be accurate. However, Handy has made a comment about his comparison between the two Christies, and it has come to fruition.

After the win over the Warriors, Handy drew back to his initial thought of Christie, and that was comparing him to Doug Christie:

“Man, Max was a problem tonight defensively,” Handy said. “Like I said man, I’m going to keep saying it, I’m going to keep saying Doug Christie because just the more I look at him just from the defensive side, he’s a pest and he’s long, and he knows how to keep guys in front of him. So he really took the challenge tonight. His defensive pressure was really good, he was on the ball a little bit tonight handling showing he can make decisions. He got a really nice floater game, got nice nice touch. I just think the ceiling is really high for that kid, he’s got a great ceiling”.

The potential Handy and the rest of the Lakers see in Christie is a great sign for not only the present heading into next season, but for the long-term as the Lakers track record of finding hidden gems late in the draft stays successful so far.

Great early starts for the rookie out of Michigan State will continue to push the needle for his offensive and defensive consistency to come forth. There is still so much Laker fans have not seen from Christie, and that is the most exciting part about this Summer League season.

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