Rookie center Ivica Zubac made a name for himself in his Summer League debut back in July. The Croatian showed a variety of skills in the paint while quickly becoming a fan favorite among the Los Angeles Lakers faithful.
With Zubac showing a lot of potential in the five games played in Las Vegas, the 19-year-old made a strong case to get some minutes during his first year in purple and gold. Although Zubac excelled on both ends of the floor and may have a bright future in Los Angeles, the second-round pick probably won’t see much time this season, according to general manager Mitch Kupchak via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters.
Mitch Kupchak doesn’t anticipate Ivica Zubac to get a ton of playing time, but does expect him to work his tail off in practice.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) September 27, 2016
Veteran Timofey Mozgov will likely be the starting center for the Lakers. Mozgov signed a four-year deal with the team this summer worth $64 million. Even though Mozgov appears to have the starting spot locked up ahead of the 2016-17 NBA season, the player that gets the bulk of the minutes as his backup remains to be seen.
Tarik Black, Yi Jianlian, and Zubac are in contention for the distinction as Mozgov’s backup. The rookie will have to prove his worth throughout training camp and during the preseason in order to merit time at the position, but as Kupchak said, the Croatian may not see much time during his rookie year.
Fellow rookie Brandon Ingram, however, is expected to play a significant role during the 2016-17 campaign. Ingram will be in the mix for the starting job at small forward, but the consensus seems to be that Luol Deng will get the nod to start the season.