Head coach Luke Walton has been tinkering with the starting lineup of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half of the season with the playoffs seemingly out of reach. Along with experimenting with Tarik Black and Brandon Ingram as starters, Walton will likely insert rookie center Ivica Zubac into the starting lineup at some point.
Walton seems open to shaking things up with only a few weeks left in the 2016-17 NBA season. Zubac, who has been much better than anticipated in his rookie campaign, will get his opportunity as a starter sooner rather than later, via Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com:
“We’ll get him out there and see how he handles first-string center and bigger minutes,” Walton said.
Zubac started one game this season filling in for Timofey Mozgov. The Croatian product went head-to-head with Dwight Howard back on Nov. 2 playing about 19 minutes and finishing with six points, four rebounds, and a steal.
Following his first start for the Lakers, which was ironically his NBA debut, Zubac spent a considerable amount of time with the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Zubac ultimately supplanted Mozgov in the rotation and has played in every single game since Jan. 1.
The 19-year-old center has recorded three double-doubles since earning more playing time and has shown a lot of promise to be an important part of the team's young core moving forward. The Lakers brass has high expectations for the seven-footer, and if everything pans out, he could be the starter at the center position for quite some time.
In the meantime, Black will continue to start at the five spot until Walton decides to make another change.
Before Tuesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets at the STAPLES Center, Zubac is averaging 5.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 50.4 percent from the floor.