The Los Angeles Lakers have now lost eight of their last nine games and things are looking bleak for the franchise. One beacon of light recently, however, has been the play of rookie center Ivica Zubac.
Zubac has started to become a regular part of the rotation and has recored a double-double in three of the last five games including back-to-back contests this week. After spending much of the early season developing in the D-League, Zubac is already starting to show that he can help the Lakers now.
Unfortunately, Zubac’s good games have been coming in Lakers losses and though Zubac is happy with his progress, he would prefer they come in victories according to Bill Oram of the OC Register:
“I feel like I’ve come around a lot,” Zubac said. “I can do a lot to help the team and I am trying to do my best. But it’s not good if we don’t get a win. It doesn’t feel right. Whatever I do, it doesn’t feel right if we lose.”
This is the kind of mindset that is encouraging. Zubac cares more about the team success than his individual stats which is promising for his future.
One place where Zubac has shined is in the pick-and-roll where his excellent screens and finishing ability around the basket has helped him become a major weapon. Zubac revealed that screen setting and pick-and-roll game is something he learned when he was young via Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com:
“I learned that when I was young,” Zubac said. “When you set a hard screen and roll hard, either you’re going to be open or somebody else is going to be open. That’s one of the first things I learned playing basketball. Wherever I go, that thing’s really helpful.”
Zubac is an extremely skilled young player with an outstanding amount of potential and he has shown as much recently. He makes an impact on both ends of the floor and although he still has a lot to work on, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
The Lakers have a lot of young talent on the roster and Zubac is another player that the Lakers staff was able to find outside of the lottery. If he realizes his potential, he could wind up being the best of the bunch.