It’s been a whirlwind week for Los Angeles Lakers rookie Ivica Zubac. It all started when the 19-year old second-round pick went from almost entirely out of the Lakers’ rotation into getting some garbage time minutes against the San Antonio Spurs last Thursday.
Zubac impressed in his minutes, parlaying that into token time against the Los Angeles Clippers at the end of a blowout loss, but the day was still historic as he became just the 10th player ever to play for both an NBA team and a D-League team in the same day.
The seven-footer wasn’t done there. Zubac then fought through fatigue to impress his teammates and coaching staff with some good minutes against the Detroit Pistons the following night.
All of those events, however, were just prelude for what Zubac had in store for the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers’ lost to the Nuggets on Tuesday night, but it was through little fault of Zubac. The teenager not only blocked the the NBA’s newest unicorn, Nikola Jokic, straight-up off-the-dribble, but he also finished the Lakers’ loss with the first double-double of his young career and an impressive highlight reel to boot:
In addition to his double-double, Zubac posted a team-best net-rating of 8.2 against the Nuggets, and because it’s Zubac, the fun didn’t stop there. He also gave Lakers fans plenty of postgame quotes to swoon over:
"No. I'm not surprised... I was just waiting for my chance"- Zubac on his success— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 18, 2017
"Way too soon"- Zubac on receiving MVP chants— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 18, 2017
(Yes, Zubac did receive MVP chants from the Staples Center crowd).
You can (and probably should) watch his whole postgame address here:
Zubac’s teammates, coaches, and even the opposing coach were thrilled by his success:
"He's not really an energy type of guy, but he's always in the right spot"- Walton on @ivicazubac— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 18, 2017
Nick Young on playing with Ivica Zubac this summer: "I went back and told my friends, 'This guy's gonna be good. He's gonna be special.'" pic.twitter.com/xzWE9YtKxQ— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 18, 2017
Denver coach Mike Malone stopped Ivica Zubac on the way out of the arena to say how impressed he was, and to keep it up.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 18, 2017
Zubac had a career-high game w/ 11 points, 13 boards & 3 blocks. He also got on Nick Young for shooting only 4 of 11 from 3 pic.twitter.com/SH7RXQQamt— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 18, 2017
Ingram comes out of the shower & smiles at all the cameras surrounding Zubac. BI: "the man of the hour"— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) January 18, 2017
Zubac says he wants to show he's a good player. Ingram interrupts Zu and says "Great"— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) January 18, 2017
(As an aside, this isn’t the first time Ingram has tried to mess with Zubac during a postgame interview this week):
Brandon Ingram just showed up to shoot/watch Zubac's postgame interview pic.twitter.com/FZsbF2eurd— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 15, 2017
Even Larry Nance, Jr. (who missed another game due to injury) wanted to make sure fans knew how well Zubac played as their bromance continues:
Great game tonight for my little brother Zu Alcindor @ivicazubac— Larry Nance Jr (@Larrydn22) January 18, 2017
After another impressive night, it seems like just about everyone is enamored with Zubac. His play against Denver may have earned him a spot in the rotation moving forward, and he doesn’t plan on going away anytime soon.
Ivica Zubac said tonight was one of his highlights since the Lakers drafted him: "I hope I’m going to have more moments like this."— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) January 18, 2017