The Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball program had three players from the 2021-2022 roster hoping to find their way into the game’s highest level last week during the 2022 NBA Draft: Max Christie, Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham Jr. Moving forward, all three of players will get their shot in the NBA, but each has something to prove in the league.
Christie, who spent just one season in East Lansing, surprised many when he made the decision to stay in the draft instead of returning for his sophomore season. While perhaps Christie wasn’t selected as early as he was hoping for, his decision ultimately paid off, as the shooting guard was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers (No. 35 overall). Christie was the only one of the former Spartans to be selected in the two-round draft.
Even with his selection, there was the thought that had he stayed in school another year, he could have moved into the first round of the draft in 2023. That opinion was expressed on draft night by ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas. It may be for that reason that most MSU fans didn’t expect Christie to be selected in the first round, with only 26 percent of Reacts voters believing Christie would go in the first 30 picks.
It’s clear that having watched the season closely, Michigan State fans had a good understanding of how the team’s best players ranked among the rest of the draft class. Christie was not the only former Spartan who fans correctly predicted the outcome for on draft night.
Both Brown and Bingham elected to enter the draft. While seniors, both had a year of eligibility left due to the blanket waiver the NCAA granted to all 2020-2021 winter athletes. In both cases, 74 percent of fans predicted the player would not be drafted. Brown and Bingham both found NBA teams, but not until signing as undrafted free agents.
Brown is getting a chance with the Oklahoma City Thunder, while Bingham will take his talents to the Dallas Mavericks. Neither player is guaranteed a roster spot at the NBA level (to be fair, Christie is not a lock to make the Lakers’ regular season roster either), and both players could spend some time in the G League, but will at least have their chance to impress and make a team.
Only time will tell if the three Spartans will be able to prove themselves as prominent NBA players. But most importantly for all three guys, they have now accomplished a goal by making it to the league, and have an opportunity to start a basketball career with an NBA team.