Pressure on Lakers guard Max Christie to prove he was underutilized by Darvin Ham

The Los Angeles Lakers had a decision to make on the Max Christie front. General manager Rob Pelinka has taken a calculated risk.
Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers kicked off the 2024 NBA offseason by publicly establishing the members of their young core. Starters Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves were included, as expected, while 2023 first-round draft pick Jalen Hood-Schifino was understandably named, as well.

The surprising name that surfaced on the list was former second-round draft pick Max Christie—and a commitment has been made to solidify his prioritization as a long-term asset.

Christie appeared in 108 games between his first two NBA seasons, averaging 13.5 minutes played during that time. As the Lakers shift to a new head coach after the hiring of JJ Redick, however, the organization has committed to increasing the role and value of their 21-year-old wing.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Christie is planning to sign a four-year, $32 million deal that will see him return to the Lakers through the 2027-28 season.

It's a massive commitment to a player who projects to see a significant increase in playing time during his first season under Redick.

Christie has the potential to become a high-level two-way wing in Los Angeles. He's the physical prototype from a height and length perspective, standing at 6'6" with a 6'9" wingspan that enables him to defend players at multiple positions.

Christie will need to add muscle to his frame to consistently go up in position on the defensive end of the floor, but that's certainly a possibility.

Christie also has the athleticism that teams are looking for from a perimeter player. He ranked No. 1 in his class in the three-quarter sprint, thus showcasing his end-to-end speed, and finished sixth in the shuttle run and 10th in the lane agility drill—tests of his lateral quickness and agility.

Based on their financial investment in his upside, the Lakers clearly believe that Christie can turn those physical gifts into consistent value on the defensive end of the floor.

The key to Christie tapping into his full potential will be his development as a consistent contributor on offense. He's showcased an effective outside shot through two seasons, converting 37.8 percent of his 180 three-point field goal attempts.

In the event that Christie is able to become a true 3-and-D player, it's easy to envision a scenario in which he earns stable playing time.

Attacking closeouts and finishing at the rim would be the icing on the cake, but even a pure 3-and-D role would make him invaluable to the Lakers. It's worth noting that he shot 39.4 percent on catch-and-shoot three-point field goals in 2024-25, thus making it clear that such upside exists.

At an average of $8 million per season, the Lakers seem to believe that Christie will take another step forward as soon as the 2024-25 season—and continue to contribute across multiple seasons.