Luke Walton’s Los Angeles Lakers are fully committed to their youth movement down the stretch of this season. The first significant move came a few weeks ago when Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black were moved into the starting lineup at the expense of Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov.
Another beneficiary of the youth movement is rookie center Ivica Zubac who has seen a minutes increase as well. Zubac has shown flashes of impressive play this season, and the second-round pick has a ton of potential.
While Zubac is still coming off the bench now, Walton hinted at him eventually finding his way into the starting lineup, according to Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com:
“We’ll get him out there and see how he handles first-string center and bigger minutes,”
One of the things the Lakers wanted Zubac to work on early this year was his conditioning. While spending time in the D-League, Zubac lost some weight and improved his conditioning, in addition to working on his on-court skills.
Zubac has been a regular in the rotation for some time now, but the Lakers have still limited his minutes overall. Zubac has played more than 25 minutes only four times and has yet to eclipse the 30-minute mark once. Walton surely wants to see how Zubac produces in regular extended minutes.
Of course, if Zubac is moved into the starting lineup, that likely means Tarik Black will go back to coming off the bench. He would likely still see regular minutes, but Zubac is certainly the priority considering his excellent potential.
These last few weeks of the season will be very interesting as the Lakers take a long look at their young core and who is worth keeping around for the long run. Zubac will have every opportunity to prove he is the Lakers’ center of the future.