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2022 NBA Draft Profile: Max Christie

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Michigan State vs Davidson Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Max Christie is not a top-tier name in this year’s draft class, with many people having him be drafted in the 20s to being an early second-round pick. He played one year under Coach Izzo at MSU, being the first 5-Star recruit to attend MSU since Jaren Jackson Jr. did in 2017. There was some uncertainty if Christie would stay another year at MSU but he elected to go pro for this upcoming season.

Christie was Michigan State’s starting shooting guard from the jump and while the numbers weren’t quite there in the beginning, many people considered him a top 10 pick. It was obvious that he had an NBA future. His size, shooting, defense, and overall potential will likely be exciting enough for a team to use their first round draft pick on him. He has a skillset that all NBA teams could all use.

Christie was second on MSU in scoring and has just about everything you’d want in a prospect except for the frame. He showed off an elite offensive game and that he can score in a multitude of ways on the court as a Freshman. There are certainly a few holes in his game, but they are nothing that 2-3 years in the league won’t presumably fix. With Christie only being 19 years old, there’s reason to believe that he could end up going before the Nuggets pick. Similar to what happened with Josh Primo last year. But most mock drafts have Christie being a second round pick.


Vitals

Height: 6’6

Weight: 189 lbs

Wingspan: 6’8.75

Age: 19 (02/10/03)


Christie’s Freshman Season Per Game Statistics

Max Christie averaged 9.3 points per game on 38% from the field and 32% from three in his Freshman campaign at Michigan State University. He averaged 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in his 30.8 minutes per game as well. Christie is not primarily known as a defensive player, averaging 0.5 blocks and steals per game. Max Christie also averaged 1.5 TOs per game, matching his assist total per game. He certainly has room to grow as a playmaker. Christie was named a Big 10 All-Freshman for his efforts last season.


Strengths

Scoring

Christie has shown an adeptness at creating his own shot in the 2 man game on the perimeter. He controls the ball while looking for his shot in the mid-range just like Monte Morris and CJ McCollum can do. Christie has a very nice running pull-up game and can navigate drop coverage, and most defenses, very well. He is great at filling the court in transition and gets lots of good looks that way, often running to the open spot on the three-point line in transition for an open shot. Christie is a good athlete as well, never really throwing any crazy dunks down but he can certainly get up there and will make it exciting if he’s open for a dunk.

Christie was touted as a great shooter coming out of high school but had a slightly down year at MSU only shooting 31% from 3. He has a smooth, quick, and high release and steps into open shots with confidence, Christie can easily make NBA range 3’s. Max was a great spot-up and catch-and-shoot shooter as well, he will make the opposing team pay if he’s left open for a catch-and-shoot three. He put together 4 games of making at least three 3-pointers, also making 4 in one game. Max Christie might’ve only averaged 9.3 points per game, but he scored 21 once and scored at least 15 in 6 separate outings as a 19-year-old Freshman.

Basketball IQ

Christie showed an elite offensive feel for the game in his one year at MSU. He often scored off of running in transition and just simply being in the right place at the right time. Playing big minutes for a veteran coach in a veteran-led conference is nothing to overlook. Despite not having great defensive statistics, Christie had 6 games where he finished with at least 2 steals or blocks. His basketball IQ leads him to be a good 1v1 defender, he has good length for a 2 guard and showed an ability to reach from off the ball and get steals. He also tends to get blown by a decent amount by smaller players, but he can make up for it with blocks while being on the players’ back.

While turning the ball over is something he definitely needs to work on if he wants to get significant run under Coach Michael Malone, he has shown to be a great asset in an offense. Christie knows how to get to his spots and utilize himself in a way most beneficial to the team. He played came into MSU as a 5-Star recruit and took a role as a catch and shooter and cutter, he wants to win. He also excelled at being a spacer and cutter, he knows how to read defense when he doesn’t have the ball and relocate to the open spot. He also showed an adeptness of coming off of screens with the ball and shooting. Keep in mind, Christie will be a teenager until about the halfway point of his rookie campaign.


Weaknesses

His Strength

While Max’s frame will likely fill out nicely and he will develop a more imposing nature, he just is not quite that yet. He needs to add some muscle to handle NBA bodies as he struggled to get in the paint even in college. 76% of his FGs were jump shots. He somewhat struggled at the rim in college too, only converting on 41% of his attempts at the rim. His explosiveness isn’t anything spectacular and relies on shot-making rather than driving past his defender for the most part.

Christie’s strength may also lead him to struggle to get open against NBA-level defenders. If he wants to become a better finisher at the rim he needs to add a more significant burst. He will often get met in the paint by a bigger body when driving and the contact will either end up with him getting blocked or turning the ball over. Max doesn’t have an elite euro-step either, if he’s facing contact he struggles to get it off. Because Christie struggles to get open heading to the rim or paint, he often tries to finish around contact and that doesn't always go very well.

Turnovers/Inconsistencies

Christie averaged the same amount of assists as he did turnovers. While it is only 1.5 a game that is still not great. While Christie was not asked to be much of a playmaker, it’s hard to have a guard out there who can’t play-make very great. If Christie does end up in Denver, turnovers are a sure way for him to not get very many minutes under Coach Malone. The turnovers can be equated to Max being only 19 and I’m sure once he settles into his career more he’ll be calmer and be a better passer though.

Christie makes a lot of mistakes that remind you that he’s 19 years old. He drives really wide and will often run out of room and have to throw up an ugly shot. Christie is also just inconsistent, he ended the season on a cold spell from three. When he started to slump shooting his release started to slow down, making it even harder for him to make shots. There is doubt he’ll ever add true deep NBA range.


Verdict

Max Christie is a young player who still has a decent amount of uncertainties. I would be concerned about his fit with the current Nuggets group goals, but if the scouting department really loves him then I’m for it. I think Christie will end up going right around where the Nuggets pick is, I’m just wary of his timeline. Max looks like he’ll become a good NBA player in my eyes, he has a good-looking game and as a 19-year-old he has incredible potential.

Denver could use his skill set, I think a 2 guard who can defend a little and space the floor well with good size is exactly what Denver needs. But Christie being so young and inconsistent is worrying to me, I don’t know how big of an impact he could have in his next 2 years if he was put into Denver’s scenario. It might be hard for the front office to turn down a more established, older prospect.