The Los Angeles Lakers were able to get in on the action in the 2022 NBA Draft, acquiring the No. 35 overall pick in the second round from the Orlando Magic and taking Michigan State wing Max Christie.
Given the number of open spots on the Lakers roster, Rob Pelinka made it known that they were looking to acquire one or multiple picks.
They were able to get the deal done with Orlando and while the Lakers weren’t able to get another second-rounder, they were able to bring in two more prospects they like in Syracuse’s Cole Swider and Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr. as undrafted free agents on two-way contracts.
The addition of three players will help with the Lakers’ goal of getting younger, and Pelinka was excited when talked about what the Lakers were able to do on draft night
“We talked about intentionally getting younger and I think the chance to get into the top of the second round was something that we strategically had on our board that we wanted to accomplish,” Pelinka said after the draft. “Appreciative of the conversations with the Orlando Magic that really started a week ago and were able to acquire 35 and as you guys know, our scouts have an incredible track record of finding guys in the second round that we can develop and turn into good players. And we think Max Christie is definitely next in line with those type of players. Just a two-way, 3-and-D type player. High character person, played for Tom Izzo. He’s just gonna bring just the grit that kids that play in that program bring. Really excited about that.
“And then added a couple two-way players, we’re in the process with Cole Swider who’s a knockdown 6’9″ shooter from Syracuse. I know [Dave] Mcmenamin’s got to be happy there. And Scotty Pippen Jr., who is just a tenacious defensive-minded kid that is gonna compete every night he plays and I think will really change the complexity of camp because I know he’s gonna compete for a position and play hard and we just loved his attitude when he came here and worked out. Loved what he did in Chicago and we just think those three players are gonna add a certain amount of energy to what we do when camp opens and we’re really excited.”
Pelinka went on to add that all of the Lakers’ scouts and front office members were in favor of taking Christie with the 35th pick.
“It’s very rare to have a consensus pick, maybe at No. 1 you can get a room full of scouts and have a consensus pick but once you get to 35 there’s just so many varying opinions. But very uniquely on this night, it doesn’t happen all the time, but Max was a consensus pick of all the scouts and all the front office people. It was someone we really identified and targeted as a group of people as we were trying to get into the second round knowing that was realistic.”
Pelinka high on Christie’s upside
In Christie’s lone season at Michigan State, he underwhelmed a bit after being highly-touted out of high school in Illinois. That didn’t concern Pelinka or the Lakers though, in fact, they thought the 19-year-old had a good college season and would have been drafted even higher if he went back to school for another year.
“I think Max is a McDonalds All-American that was one of the top recruits that Michigan State’s signed in recent history and I actually think he had a really strong season for a 19-year-old playing in the Big Ten which is a man’s league,” Pelinka said. “But he’s got the ability to be a pick-and-roll guard, handles the ball. He’s got a very nice shooting stroke, I think when we plug him into Darvin and Chris Jent and just the developmental coaches that we’re gonna have, I really think he’s gonna turn into a really good shooter. He’s got just beautiful touch on the ball, great arch and rotation on his shot. And then he’s a twitchy athlete with really unique floater game and finishing skills around the basket, can get in the paint.
“We really think he’s a guy that if he would’ve chosen to go back to school, you’re talking about a guy that could’ve easily been in the top 20, top 15 in next year’s draft. So to be able to get a player like that and develop him with the 35th pick is rare and we’re really proud.”
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