When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted 19-year-old Croatian center Ivica Zubac with the 32nd overall pick, many Lakers fans weren’t sure exactly what they were getting. Several draft experts believed that the Lakers had found themselves somewhat of a steal in the second round, but it wasn’t until the Las Vegas Summer League that it became clear just how much potential the young big man has.
Zubac thrilled crowds with his impressive blocks and soft touch around the basket, and it wasn’t long before cheers of “Zooooooo” were heard throughout the arena.
After his breakout performance, Zubac got to work preparing for his first NBA season. He recently told Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com that he is still in disbelief of the fact that he is now playing for the team that he grew up supporting:
“It was always my dream to play in the NBA, especially for the Lakers because they’re the greatest franchise ever. I always was a fan of the Lakers. It was even hard to imagine I was going to play in the NBA, because so many guys playing in Europe are not even getting to the Euroleague and everything. But everybody wants to play in the NBA. So when draft night came, it was a dream come true.”
Despite his success in Summer League, Zubac still has a lot of work to do to make it in the NBA. He has been training with the recently-signed Tarik Black to help get him used to defending with the physically strong post players that he will face next season. Despite Black’s muscle, Zubac feels that he can hold his own:
“Nobody can push me around.”
Currently, Zubac figures to be the fourth center in the Lakers’ rotation, behind Timofey Mozgov, Black, and Yi Jianlian. He may end up spending a solid amount of time in the D-League to become accustomed to the athleticism of the league. It will take some time, but if Ivica Zubac can continue to work hard, the Lakers just may have found a diamond in the rough with the 32nd pick.