The Los Angeles Lakers seem to have a knack for finding talent late in the NBA Draft, and now it appears they have done it again. Ivica Zubac appears to be well on his way to joining Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson as players who were undervalued on draft day that the Lakers were able to get a hold of.
Zubac, who is still just 19 years old, has spent much of his first season learning the ropes in the D-League. However, with head coach Luke Walton now even more focused on developing the team’s young talent, Zubac has been thrust into a big role for the Lakers as Timofey Mozgov’s primary backup, and it’s paying dividends.
After posting a career-high 17 points to go along with 6 rebounds against the Denver Nuggets, Walton raved about Zubac’s ability to the handle the pressure of an NBA game (via Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell):
Walton on Zubac: “He just has a great feel for the game … he doesn’t ever get rattled. It’s impressive what he did” (in crunch time).
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 1, 2017
Zubac possesses an intriguing skill set, with a soft touch around the basket, a dependable jumper, and the size and wingspan to protect the paint. It’s this particular combination of skills that Los Angeles has been lacking for some time, and the hope is that Zubac could become the Lakers’ center of the future.
After only averaging 12.3 minutes per game on the season, and rarely appearing in non-garbage time minutes, Zubac has been unleashed, averaging 25 minutes over the last three games. During that span, he’s putting up 15 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting over 54 percent from the field, and it appears that he will be in line for all the playing time he can handle for the next few months.
There is still plenty of work to do, but it looks like the Lakers have unearthed another diamond in the rough.