It seems fair to say that Ivica Zubac exceeded whatever minimal expectations the Los Angeles Lakers organization and its fans had for him when he was selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Almost a year later, Zubac is coming off of a season in which he started 11 games and averaged 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 52.9 percent over his 38 total appearances. Those numbers may not sound like much, but they came in just 16 minutes per game. Per-36 minutes, Zubac 16.8 points and 9.4 rebounds, (per Basketball-Reference).
There were real, basketball reasons (just not the David Stern kind) that Zubac didn’t play 36 minutes per game. He sometimes struggled with foul trouble, wasn’t always in the right place defensively and at the start of the season lacked the conditioning to play that much.
Those things happen to 19-year old rookies playing their first NBA minutes, and based on his Twitter account, Zubac isn’t satisfied with his debut and has already hit the gym to make sure he comes back better next season:
Feels great to be back in a gym! We got whole summer ahead of us to work hard...— Ivica Zubac (@ivicazubac) May 15, 2017
For young players trying to make their mark in the league, what they do over the summer can be the biggest difference between reaching their full potential and being relegated to a “what could have been”-type of story.
Zubac and the other young Lakers showing off social media evidence of their workouts, including Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, all seem to be making sure they do their best to come back better than ever next season, which is likely exactly what the new front office wants to see after such a rough year.