On Friday night the Los Angeles Lakers ended their preseason with a 98-94 loss to the Phoenix Suns. The result of the game isn’t too important as it is still just a preseason game, but for rookie center Ivica Zubac this game will never be forgotten.
Zubac made his first career start for the Lakers as Timofey Mozgov didn’t play due to a tailbone injury suffered in Wednesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. Zubac hasn’t played a bunch due to the Lakers’ logjam in the front court but this start was a big deal for him.
After the game he spoke on how his feelings about starting as a Laker for the first time via Tania Ganguli of the LA Times:
"It felt like dream. I can’t lie. I didnt know what to do. It didnt feel real to start for the Lakers…I’m living a great life" @ivicazubac
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) October 22, 2016
Zubac played only 10 minutes in the game, totaling four points, two rebounds, and a steal, but the numbers weren’t important as the moment itself. If had to be a great feeling to hear his name called with the starters for the first time and it is likely something he will never forget.
With Mozgov, as well as Tarik Black, whoever survives the cut between Yi Jianlian and Thomas Robinson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. it’s no surprise that Zubac hasn’t seen a lot of time this preseason. His spot on the roster is solidified and head coach Luke Walton wanted to see some guys who were fighting for a spot, and experiment with different lineups he may try in the regular season.
The 19-year old big man won’t be a part of the rotation, at least at the outset of the season. That is why he expects to spend some time in the D-League with the Los Angeles D-Fenders as that will give him the opportunity to develop with plenty of minutes.
Despite that, Zubac got to hear his name called with the starters for the first time, and he and Lakers fans everywhere hope that will become a regular sound in the coming years.