Over the next week, GBB will be profiling various players the Memphis Grizzlies may target in the 2022 draft. We’ll primarily look at who they may pick with the 22nd and 29th pick, or with a pick from a possible trade-up in the draft.
Max Christie, Guard, Michigan State
- 6’5”, 189 pounds, 6’8” Wingspan, 19 years old from Arlington Heights, Illinois
- Freshman Year at Michigan State: In 35 games (35 Games Started) 30.8 Minutes Per Game, 9.3 Points Per Game on 38.2% shooting from the field (31.7% from three, 82.4% from the line), 3.5 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game, 0.5 steals per game, 0.5 blocks per game
- Awards and Accolades: 2021-22 Big Ten All-Freshman
- Stats of Strength (per Tankathon): Fouls (1.3 per 36 minutes), Turnovers (1.7 per 36 minutes)
- Stats to Improve (per Tankathon): Box Plus/Minus (1.9), PER (10.9), Win Shares (0.063/40 minutes)
- Current Big Board Rankings: 39th (Tankathon), 45th (ESPN), 30th (CBS Sports), 39th (Bleacher Report), 40th (The Athletic)
To continue the theme of struggling one-and-done players that could be drafted higher based off pedigree, Max Christie is another prospect that fits the bill. Similar to his fellow classmates in the same boat, Christie struggled with his shooting efficiency and couldn’t generate any sort of rhythm, finishing the season with a 49.4 true shooting percentage and a 44.9 effective field goal percentage. As a result, he fell into the second-round territory.
As the college season ended, Christie has started to trend upwards towards the late 1st round and early 2nd round, similar to Caleb Houstan and Patrick Baldwin Jr. He has an interesting set of tools for a wing — 6’5”, nearly a 6’9” wingspan, pristine shooting form, and a potential off movement. There will be a team willing to bet on those traits, especially from a 19-year old prospect.
For the Memphis Grizzlies, they can afford this opportunity. Any rookie is not expected to play any sort of major minutes next season, and as a contender, that may not be a favorable decision. Why not take the flier and see if a raw, intriguing wing prospect pans out?
Areas of Strength
Though the percentages didn’t show it at Michigan State, Max Christie has great indicators to bounce back from beyond the arc at the next level. Two statistical barometers for NBA 3-point translation are free throw percentage and efficiency on runners. Christie shot 82.4% from the free throw line and scored 1.143 points per possession on runners (94th percentile, per Synergy Sports). His mechanics are also fluid and repeatable, leading to the belief he can rally back from his off shooting his freshman season.
Christie also has potential as a scorer off of movement. His size on the wing certainly helps him in this area, especially at the two-guard spot. He scored 0.984 PPP off screens (60th percentile), finding those spots anywhere around the floor — from the mid-range to the 3-point line. He won’t be a player teams are running actions for, but it bodes well for his potential as a relocating shooter.
Max Christie's scoring package was on full display last night vs Butler as he poured in 18pts on 6-9/2-4/4-5 shooting. Floater, attacking the basket, pull up, c&s off movement. He showed it all in this one. Silky smooth wing with some otd game. Comfortably in the 1st round for me pic.twitter.com/M9DRhhgC0q— Alex (Draft Film School) (@DraftFilmSchool) November 18, 2021
Max Christie also projects as a prospect that could become a plus defender at the next level. His size (6’5” with a 6’8” wingspan) gives him the ability to guard positions 1-3. One element of his defense that’s so intriguing is how he defends without fouling. Last season, he only committed 1.4 fouls per 40 minutes, the best mark from any underclassmen in this draft. Christie will need to add more strength to realize his defensive potential, as he’ll likely be targeted for mismatches. However, the tools are there for him to be an impactful defender at the next level.
Max Christie is one of the more impressive wing defenders in the 2022 NBA Draft. Lights out defender with lockdown potential given his length, footspeed, and overall knowledge + skill on that end.— Mavs / Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) May 27, 2022
Currently mocked at 26 by some including @basketbllnews in their latest mock #MFFL pic.twitter.com/TuVGEPuPdu
If Max Christie can find his rhythm from downtown, while defending at a plus level without fouling, he’s going to be a great role player that’ll be hard to keep off the floor.
Areas of Improvement
Inefficiency plagued Christie last season, and it predicates around his lack of burst and strength.
Christie was a poor finisher inside the paint, shooting 47.9% on close 2’s — the 2nd-lowest mark among underclassmen in this class. There are elements that factor finishing in the college game — the spacing from non-shooting bigs and the zone defense being two of them. However, his struggles inside highlight his need to add more strength. If he doesn’t improve off this, he’ll need to counter it with being nearly elite from 3 or in the mid-range.
Christie also doesn’t project as a creator at the next level. Though he’s shown the ability to make tough shots, he won’t be relied upon to be on the ball a lot at the next level. This area won’t make or break him, as it won’t be his role in the NBA. However, it’s an element of his game that lowers his ceiling.
I don't buy Max Christie being able to do much of anything with the ball in his hands at the next level. He's not bursty and there just aren't a lot of moves in the bag. He was rarely forced to dribble against a set defense for MSU, and it is probably because of stuff like this pic.twitter.com/1T7Yms9w1o— Bryce Hendricks (@BryceHendrick14) June 9, 2022
Like most prospects with his résumé, his inefficiency could end up sticking around, and it shortens his NBA career. The shot may not fall, he may continue to struggle inside, and his defense doesn’t outweigh those struggles. It can certainly happen.
Despite that reality, Christie’s struggles can be corrected with added strength and with a rediscovered jumper, or minimized with a more optimal role.
Fit with the Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies could use a developmental 2-guard at the end of the roster next season. Both De’Anthony Melton and John Konchar are on the back-end of their contracts, and it’d make sense to have a younger guard waiting in the wings.
Max Christie fits that bill, and he won’t be relied upon to immediately contribute on the main roster. If drafted by the Grizzlies, he should spend a lot of his time down in Southaven where he could get accustomed to the NBA 3-point line and defensive schemes, while taking on some playmaking and go-to responsibilities.
Whenever he’s ready to play, he seems to be an ideal complement next to Ja Morant and Desmond Bane in the backcourt. He can play off the ball, while alleviating playmaking responsibilities off of both players. If the Grizzlies ever commit to the “backup point guard by committee” system they deployed in moments without Ja Morant last season, Christie could join that group.
Now, the question is where in the draft could Max Christie be picked? His range is wide, arguably starting from 25 down to 45. Several weeks ago, it looked like Christie could be there at 47, giving him the comfort of a two-way spot next season. However, I’d be totally cool if he was the pick at 29, if the Grizzlies kept it. SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell believes he’d be the best prospect at the 29th spot from his recent mock draft of predictions and best picks — pointing to off-ball, shooting, and defensive potential.
If Max Christie is the pick for the Grizzlies, it’s undestandable to be enticed. He has the scalable skillset to fit into the Grizzlies system, and he’d be another player to add to the pipeline of perimeter players developed under this coaching staff. The Grizzlies can afford an upside pick, and Christie should be on the list of ones to target.