The Los Angeles Lakers may have suffered a blow to their talented young core on Thursday. Starting rookie center Ivica Zubac went down with an apparent ankle injury early in the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves and had to immediately be taken into the locker room to be evaluated.
According to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times, Zubac suffered a high ankle sprain and won’t return to the game as a result:
Ivica Zubac has a right high ankle sprain. X-Rays were negative for a fracture, but he won't return.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) March 31, 2017
Before heading to the locker room, Zubac scored two points going 1-of-2 from the field. Tarik Black took over for his injured teammate.
Zubac has been one of the best young players on the team this season. The Croatian rookie has far exceeded expectations going from an unknown second-round draft pick to a starter over the course of his first season under head coach Luke Walton.
Although Timofey Mozgov is under contract for another three seasons, Zubac may have already shown enough to the Lakers brass to convince them to make him the starter at center long-term.
Prior to suffering the injury on Thursday, Zubac had played in 37 games and averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the floor.