One of the biggest surprises for the Los Angeles Lakers last season was the emergence of rookie second-round pick Ivica Zubac, who started a handful of games for the team towards the end of the season.
Because of that expectations were high for Zubac going into the Las Vegas Summer League, but Zubac failed to meet them as he seemed to be a bit out of shape and couldn’t keep up with the fast pace the Lakers were playing at.
Zubac has looked good so far in training camp though, as according to head coach Luke Walton he used his poor summer league performance as motivation to come into camp in shape, via the Lakers official Facebook page:
“He was disappointed in it. Obviously, we were disappointed in it,” Walton said after Sunday’s practice. “We had a sitdown talk with him and he kind of, it happens, he kind of assumed because he had success at the end of last season in the NBA that summer league would be easy for him. When you go in with that mindset and you’re playing a bunch of young guys that are hungry trying to make jobs, trying to get jobs, it’s gonna be a tough place to success at. But since then I really think he’s used that to motivate him to get to where he’s at right now, including being eight percent body fat.”
Zubac played 19 minutes off the bench in Saturday preseason opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves, scoring nine points on 4-of-6 shooting to go along with five rebounds and two assists.
With the offseason acquisitions of veteran Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut, it may dip into Zubac’s playing time this season, but could ultimately work out for the 20-year-old in the long-run as he has two outstanding mentors to learn from throughout the year.