While players like Larry Nance Jr., D’Angelo Russell, and Brandon Ingram garnered much of the attention during Summer League, arguably the favorite player of the fans coming out of the summer was rookie second-round pick Ivica Zubac.
The young Croatian showed off his skills on both offense and defense as well as a ton of energy and emotion as he suited up for his favorite team growing up.
Zubac said he even surprised himself with his play and General Manager Mitch Kupchak also noted that he didn’t expect Zubac to play as well as he did this summer via Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com:
Kupchak said that he “quite frankly” didn’t expect Ivica Zubac to play as well as he did at Summer League, where he affected both sides of the floor with 10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and a 64.7 field goal percentage.
Kupchak added that expectations were low for Zubac, especially considering his lack of practice time, but he’s ahead of where the team originally thought he would be:
“He really only had one practice under his belt, and expectations were very low,” Kupchak said. “But once again, he’s a young player that’s gonna need time to develop as well. But I think he’s a little bit ahead of what we thought.”
Zubac was definitely the surprise player of the summer, but he is definitely looking like another steal for the Lakers as the scouting staff continues to prove their worth. Jordan Clarkson was the 46th pick in 2014 and Nance Jr. was the 27th in 2015. Now the Lakers seem to have found another core piece with the 32nd pick this year.
With Timofey Mozgov being signed in free agency, Zubac won’t be expected to come in and be a major contributor immediately, but at only 19 years old with a ton of talent, it’s not hard to picture Zubac being the Lakers center of the future.