Rob Pelinka Has Strong Reaction to Lakers’ 19-Year-Old Draft ‘Steal’

Max Christie, Lakers draftee

Getty Max Christie, Lakers draftee

NEW YORK—The Lakers entered Thursday’s NBA draft night without a pick but badly in need of youth. They came out with a 19-year-old wing from Michigan State described by one scout as a, “potential steal.”

That’s the hope, certainly. Christie was one of the top recruits in the country when he went to East Lansing last year, and projected to be a first-round pick in this year’s draft, perhaps even a lottery pick. At 6-foot-6 with long arms (his wingspan is nearly 6-foot-9), he has the capability to be an excellent defensive player and was supposed to be a deadeye perimeter shooter.

When he actually laced up his high tops for the Spartans, though, he struggled to make shots, shooting 38.2% from the field and 31.7% from the 3-point line. He was supposed to be a top-tier 3-and-D player and while the D was there, the 3 was not.

“You know, I think you take last year and put it in context,” one college scout told “He really slumped at the end of the year and that knocked his numbers down. But you look at his form and see how he played for Team USA and in practice, camps, all of that. He is a potential steal in that spot. He is a super tough Chicago kid who is going to be better in the NBA than he was in college.”

Lakers Front Office had Christie as ‘Consensus’ Pick

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is obviously a big Christie backer. He said on Thursday night that the team’s decision-making staff was all in agreement that Christie should be their guy—a rare occasion in any front office. Said Pelinka:

Our scouts have an incredible track record of finding guys in the second round that we can develop and turn into good players,” general manager Rob Pelinka said. “We think Max Christie is next in line with those type of players, just a two-way, 3-and-D type of player, high-character person, played for Tom Izzo. He’s just going to bring the grit that kids who play in that program bring. Really excited about that.

It’s very rare to have a consensus pick, maybe when you are picking No. 1, you can have a roomful of scouts and you can have a consensus pick. But once you get to 35, there are just so many varying opinions. But very uniquely on this night, Max was a consensus pick of all the scouts and all the front-office people, and was someone we really identified and targeted in a group of people as we were trying to get in the top of the second round.

Post-Draft Press Conference: Rob Pelinka (6/23/22)Subscribe for the latest Lakers' content: Follow us on Facebook: Follow us on Instagram: Follow us on Twitter: Get the Lakers app:…2022-06-24T05:54:27Z

Pelinka: ‘He Had a Strong Season’

But there’s no doubt that Christie was disappointing at Michigan State and did not live up to his billing coming out of Rolling Meadows High School. He was a five-star recruit and ranked No. 13 in his class by 247 Sports in 2021.

“I think Max, as a McDonald’s All-American and one the top recruits at Michigan State in recent history, I actually think he had a strong season as a 19-year-old playing in the Big Ten, which is a man’s league,” Pelinka said. “He’s got the ability to be a pick-and-roll guard, he can handle the ball, he’s got a very nice shooting stroke. When we plug him into Darvin (Ham’s) and Chris Jent, the developmental coaches we are going to have, he is going to turn into a really good shooter. He’s got just beautiful touch on the ball, great arch and rotation on his shot. He’s a twitchy athlete with really unique floater game, can finish around the basket, gets into the paint.”


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Tom Gardner
Tom Gardner
5 days ago

he may be a decent nba player, or he may be a bust. i don’t trust Pelinka in his version of his scouts assesment.

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