Los Angeles Lakers second-round pick Ivica Zubac was unknown when he was drafted, but quickly became a fan favorite during Summer League with his strong play and infectious personality. So far during the preseason, however, Zubac has been somewhat lost in the shuffle.
With Timofey Mozgov and Tarik Black entrenched as the starter and backup at the center position, Thomas Robinson and Yi Jianlian needing to be evaluated for the final roster spot, and Luke Walton wanting to experiment with small lineups featuring Julius Randle or Larry Nance Jr. at center, Zubac has found himself on the bench more often than not.
Zubac is expected to be a big part of the Lakers’ future and he needs playing time to develop his skills. It is for that reason that Zubac expects to spend some time in the D-League this season according to Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Ivica Zubac said although the Lakers haven't talked to him yet abt playing w/ DFenders, said he expects it b/c he needs minutes to develop
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 22, 2016
This is the ideal usage for the D-Fenders. In the past, the Lakers have sent players like Jordan Clarkson and Anthony Brown down there to get them the minutes they need to develop. Clarkson has noted that his time in the D-League helped him prepare for when his number was called midway through his rookie season.
For Zubac this is great as he will likely struggle to get consistent minutes on the Lakers this season with so many established big men already on the roster. By doing this he will still be able to practice against the likes of Mozgov and Black, while getting plenty of time to put what he works on to use in real game situations.
Zubac has a ton of potential and could be the Lakers’ center of the future and the Lakers look like they will do everything to make sure he becomes as good as he can possibly be.