The trials and tribulations of the 2016-17 NBA season was a stepping-stone for the Los Angeles Lakers, as the young core logged in some much-needed experience on the court. Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac, and Larry Nance Jr. all saw their roles develop throughout the season, as they got acclimated playing with one another.
Out of the entire young core, perhaps Zubac showed the most growth during the season, consistently showing improved results when on the court. After initial stints in the D-League, now known as the G-League, head coach Luke Walton decided to insert him against other NBA centers, as part of the experimental phase of the season.
It was during this time that Zubac showed offensive potential, with noteworthy footwork and soft hands that delivered a soft touch in the paint. With Zubac focused on improving his offensive arsenal this offseason, his next step is to focus on developing a hook shot, via Mark Medina of the O.C. Register:
“I hope after summer league I get the chance to work out with Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]” Zubac said.
The opportunity to work alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not one that many NBA players should take lightly. The private opportunity to work one-on-one with the NBA’s all-time leading scorer is something that many Lakers centers have tried to take advantage of.
Zubac averaged 7.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks in 16 minutes per game while improving dramatically throughout the season. Abdul-Jabbar praised Zubac’s development, stating he has the skill set to develop a hook shot. When asked to respond to Abdul-Jabbar’s praise, Zubac gave a humble response to one of the greatest to ever play:
“What can I say? That’s the best scorer in NBA history and one of the best players and maybe one of the best centers to play against,” Zubac said. “Those words to hear from him are great.”
Prior to his season-ending ankle injury, Zubac was averaging 11.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in the month of March. Zubac now also has a chance to learn from a premier center in the NBA, with Brooklyn Nets all-time leading scorer Brook Lopez joining the Lakers.