NBA draft: Michigan State basketball's Max Christie goes to LA Lakers in Round 2

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Max Christie’s one-and-done gamble on his talent paid off — from Michigan State to the NBA.

The former five-star prospect went to the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round with the 35th overall pick in Thursday night’s 2022 NBA draft.

“One thing that, for me, is going to be beneficial is going to be time,” Christie told reporters at the NBA combine in May. “I’m only 19 years old, and I think being in an NBA system for a few years is really going to help me grow and improve over time. A team that’s willing to do that, the resources that have been implemented and the things that have been done in recent years promotes that for me.”

Michigan State guard Max Christie drives against Purdue guard Jaden Ivey during the second half of MSU's 75-70 loss in the Big Ten tournament semifinal on Saturday, March 12, 2022, in Indianapolis.
Michigan State guard Max Christie drives against Purdue guard Jaden Ivey during the second half of MSU's 75-70 loss in the Big Ten tournament semifinal on Saturday, March 12, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Christie is the Spartans’ first drafted player since Xavier Tillman and Cassius Winston both went in the 2020 second round. Coach Tom Izzo has not had a player taken in the first round since Jaren Jackson Jr. in 2018.

Christie’s lone season as a Spartan was a mercurial one. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard started all 35 games he played, missing one against High Point on Dec. 29 due to COVID-19, and posted solid all-around numbers for a freshman by averaging 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 turnovers in a team-high 30.8 minutes. He made 82.4% of his free throws and was a plus-65 on the court.

Christie struggled with his shooting, making 38.2% of his shots overall and 31.7% on 3-pointers. Despite flashing some explosiveness and surprising leaping quickness, his need to add strength and bulk to his 190-pound looked evident once Big Ten play arrived. He shot 44.7% inside the arc, predominantly on midrange jumpers, and had issues finishing through contact in the paint. Christie made 23.9% of his 3s in February and March, as his legs fatigued with his defensive responsibilities while often drawing opponents' top scoring threats.

“It may not have been reflected this past year, but I think I know and I think everyone knows I’m a better shooter than what I produced,” Christie, a native of Arlington Heights in Illinois, said in May. “Not really worried about the numbers that were produced — I’m a better shooter, and I'm going to shoot it better in the NBA.”

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: NBA draft: Michigan State's Max Christie goes to LA Lakers in Round 2