The Los Angeles Lakers may have gotten the steal of the 2016 NBA Draft. Center Ivica Zubac is quickly turning into a solid option for the team in the paint as he has worked his way into the starting lineup with hard work and the right attitude.
Head coach Luke Walton has praised his rookie center on more than one occasion, and it is easy to see why at this point in the season. Zubac doesn't complain, always plays with energy and effort while saying the right things along the way. After a career night against the Denver Nuggets, Zubac said the following about his mindset in the final stretch of the 2016-17 NBA season, via Mark Medina of the OC Register.
“I want to play as much as I can and play as hard as I can,” Zubac said. “I want to get experience and get ready for next season, to earn my role for the next season and try to grow with the young guys. It’s going to be good to get some playing time with the starting five for the rest of the season. I’ll try to make the most of my minutes,” he said.
In three starts this season, Zubac is averaging 13.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting an impressive percentage from the floor at 79.2. Zubac has steadily improved with more time on the floor and will likely be given the opportunity to flourish as a starter with Timofey Mozgov shut down for the season and Tarik Black now coming off the bench.
Zubac is coming off arguably his best performance as a Laker scoring a career-high 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the loss to the Denver Nuggets.
With 15 games left in the 2016-17 campaign, the Lakers brass will be keeping a close eye on the rookie center while the evaluation process of the current roster continues.