The Los Angeles Lakers have had something of a knack for finding talent late in the NBA Draft. Players like Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and Tarik Black have become key cogs despite being selected well outside the lottery (and Black wasn’t drafted at all). Now, it appears that the Lakers have found another diamond in the rough in Ivica Zubac.
Against the Denver Nuggets, the 19-year-old had a breakout performance, putting up 11 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks in 26 minutes of playing time. Teammate Nick Young praised his play, and claims that he saw brilliance in Zubac over the summer (via Lakers):
Nick Young on playing with Ivica Zubac this summer: "I went back and told my friends, 'This guy's gonna be good. He's gonna be special.'" pic.twitter.com/xzWE9YtKxQ
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 18, 2017
Zubac, who the Lakers selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, is a lifelong Lakers fan who was thrilled to be drafted by his favorite team. He quickly became a fan-favorite during the Las Vegas Summer League and appears to be on his way to becoming a part of the Lakers’ young core moving forward.
Young may have praised Zubac after the game, but during he found out that Zubac isn’t shy about voicing his opinion despite his young age (via Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News):
Zubac had a career-high game w/ 11 points, 13 boards & 3 blocks. He also got on Nick Young for shooting only 4 of 11 from 3 pic.twitter.com/SH7RXQQamt
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 18, 2017
Despite Zubac’s success, it’s still going to take time for him to develop as a player. He will have ups and downs as the season progresses just like anyone else trying to adapt to the NBA.
However, Zubac’s skill set is extremely promising, with many comparing him to a young Marc Gasol. If Zubac can ever hit those levels then the Lakers will have found a major piece for the future.