After the Los Angeles Lakers failed to make the playoffs this past year with a 33-49 record, they will now head into this off-season with several different questions.
The inconsistency from the purple & gold all year put them in position to be looking for changes across the organization. They started by bringing in Darvin Ham as their next head coach after letting go of former coach Frank Vogel right after the season.
They acquired Max Christie from Michigan State University with the No. 35 pick in this year’s draft after trading into the draft after not having a pick. Coming out after just his freshman year, the 6’6 wing has a 6’8 wingspan and used his length and athleticism to average 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. He shot 82% at the free throw line and started all 35 games for legendary coach Tom Izzo.
Scoring is not what the Lakers necessarily need help with heading into next season as they were in the top half of the league scoring 112.1 PPG which marked 11th best.
Keeping the ball in front and not allowing opposing guards to get anywhere they want on the floor to create for themselves or others, should be their focal point. Maybe a long athletic “YOUNG” wing like Christie will be able to bring value on that end of the floor. They finished 28th in points allowed (115.1 PPG) and a big reason they gave up several double-digit leads last season.
Even now four-time champion Draymond Green who also played under Izzo at Michigan State and like Christie was the No. 35 player taken in the draft back in 2012, tweeted about the Lakers pick. “Another 35th pick from Michigan State,” Green said. “History says he’s going to be an All-Star.”
ESPN’s College Analyst Jay Bilas weighed-in on his thoughts about the Lakers pick “I’d say he’s a solid defender, so you’d look at him as another 3-and-D guy,” Bilas said. “He wound up being a little streaky this last year, but he’s got a lot of potential. I think if he would have come back to school, we’d be talking about him as a first-round pick next year. He just needed a little bit of time to develop, and he’s going to have that when he gets to the Lakers.”
So according to Bilas he’s not a finished product, and the Lakers need someone that can help them win now.
“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.”
That sounds good, but Lakers fans don’t believe in waiting.
They expect to be contending for an 18th banner next year. So it will be interesting to see how this plays out as LeBron James enters his 18th season and coming off an MVP type season before being injured and missing 26 games.
The Lakers also added Syracuse Cole Swider and Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr. These are two players, vice president of operations Rob Pelinka is also excited about.
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