Give Zubac a chance

Give Zubac a chance

Lakers training camp day two roundup
Ivica Zubac out for the year
Dear Lakers: Lottery Limbo (Part 2)

Hey guys. I know we don’t talk much, so I’m going to try to keep this as brief as I possibly can. Look, the Lakers are pretty much who we thought they were. If you actually thought that they would be contenders for a playoff spot this season, you might be delusional. That’s okay, though. The fact that the team currently sits at a record of 11-21 after last night’s collapse in Miami and is only two and a half games out of a playoff spot is nothing short of laughable. I’m not writing them off, but come on. Luke Walton has said it himself: this season is not all about wins and losses. It’s about development.

Okay, so let’s talk about development. Coach Walton has been pretty good so far about giving his young guys a chance to figure out their games in live action. Sure, he doesn’t really have many other options, since half of this team is comprised of “young” guys (with an additional tally if you count Uncle P). His rotations have been extremely egalitarian, almost irritatingly so, with no single player seeing the court for thirty minutes or more on a regular basis. In last night’s game, he strayed from that, probably only due to the fact that four players were out for various reasons. I wasn’t able to watch the game, but one thing stood out to me as I followed along with the score while at work: despite the shortage of bodies, Ivica Zubac didn’t step on the court for a single second.

He might not be ready. He might not increase your odds of winning the game, and jeez, he might even DECREASE your odds of winning, but if this season is truly about development, then why is Zubac not getting a chance when the roster is so thin? Why is Metta World Peace trotting out on the floor to play the role of David Blaine, making the Lakers lead disappear in a matter of just three minutes? For that matter, and I’m only going to say this once, WHY ISN’T ANTHONY BROWN ON THIS TEAM? (Deep breath.)

Zubac isn’t exactly lighting up the D-League, I get that. But he is averaging 16.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, which is not bad at all. The rate at which he fouls is probably still a very real concern, but I don’t think that should be reason to hesitate before putting him out there in games like this. And, wow, a good way to get experience and to clean up issues like that is to actually play against true NBA talent. You know, experience it. He notched his first career start early on in the season in Atlanta with Mozgov out due to injury. Coach Luke threw Zubac right into the fire against Dwight Howard, who is still a top center in the league despite the hatred that many Lakers fans harbor for him, and a Hawks team that was off to one of the best starts in the NBA. Outside of that game, he’s only played in seven others, including Tuesday night in Charlotte where he played the same three minutes that MWP picked up tonight. If you can start Zubac against Dwight ‘frickin’ Howard when your starter is injured, then why not give him a shot at the backup center minutes when your backup center is injured? I’d ask you to help me understand, but I’m afraid you probably don’t get it either.

Luke Walton is new to this whole coaching thing. This is his first real head-coaching gig, and it has shown at times. For the most part, he has been great, but the development that he preaches isn’t just for the players. He needs time to figure this thing out as well. However, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that he chose not to give Zubac some burn in a game where the team’s top two power forwards and backup center did not see the court. And again, why on earth does Metta have to play three measly minutes instead of the nineteen year old that could actually use the experience? We can still be friends, Luke. Hit me up sometime, I’m always down for some beach volleyball. But for real, dude, just give Ivica Zubac some meaningful minutes, would you?