Rookie Lakers Center Ivica Zubac quickly established himself as a fan favorite, after the Lakers drafted him 32nd overall in the second round of the 2016 NBA draft. His social media following exploded from hundreds to tens of thousands overnight, as Lakers faithful raced to get to know the 19 year old 7 footer from a land far, far away.
While born in Bosnia, Zubac considers himself a native son of
Larry Nance Jr. Croatia and identifies as 100% Croatian. After showing promise in summer league and starting off with some flashes of potential early in the season, fans began to get excited about the Croatian sensation.
Zubac and teammate Larry Nance Jr. developed a close relationship, with the elder Nance adopting a jokingly father-like role in the young Center’s life and development. The hijinks and pranks between the two big men served to help entertain the diehard fans through a disappointing season.
While he started in spots, Zubac played limited minutes in a reserve role this season. The young center improved throughout the season, establishing a decent hook shot and doing some damage with midrange set shots.
As is common for virtually all NBA rookie big man, Zubac struggled defensively. He had a difficult time bodying up bigger and more developed opponents, looked lost in pick and roll, and was slow on help defense.
While not prolific, Zubac’s foot speed and athleticism are sufficient for him to make major improvements defensively, and his offensive skill set is raw, making him a high ceiling player.
The Grade: B
Zubac made strides on the offensive side of the ball, stayed relatively injury free and provided quality minutes as a rooking, earning him a B grade for the season. The fact that Zubac is a 19 year old 7 footer who can shoot puts him in an elite group of NBA prospects at the center position, and his efficiency numbers bode well for increased production with increased playing time in future seasons. As his knowledge of the game increases, especially on the defensive end, NBA guards will have to think twice before venturing into the paint at Staples Center.