Now that more than a month has passed since the Los Angeles Lakers finished the 2017-18 regular season, players are starting to work their way back to the gym. We’ve already seen players like Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart make appearances at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo and on Friday night, Thomas Bryant and Ivica Zubac also made their returns to the practice facility.
Selected with the No. 32 and No. 47 picks respectively, Zubac and Bryant didn’t see the floor a ton last season with the Lakers. While that was to be expected for Bryant in his rookie season, Zubac wasn’t supposed to be glued to the Lakers’ bench the way that he was.
The 21-year-old Croatian-born center had a strong rookie season with the Lakers, and fans were hoping he’d build on that in his second season with Los Angeles. However, from as early as Las Vegas Summer League in July, Zubac didn’t look like the same player from last year and as a result saw his playing time given to guys like veteran center Andrew Bogut early in the season.
Now with a chip on his shoulder, Zubac is back in the gym getting shots up with Bryant, who is also hoping to see his role increase next season, via Bryant’s Instagram (@nolimittb).
.@nolimittb31 and @ivicazubac were in the Lakers' gym last night pic.twitter.com/gJ7cGaM6HP— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 26, 2018
Toronto Raptors’ OG Anunoby was also at the Lakers’ practice facility. #FutureLaker.
Ironically, Bryant and Zubac will be competing for playing time at the center position next season but with Brook Lopez, who started 72 games for the Lakers at center last season, set to hit unrestricted free agency in July, there could be enough minutes to go around come opening night.
With the front office trying to stay financially flexible for this summer and the summers to follow, head coach Luke Walton could end up having to slide one of the two young centers into the starting lineup. After all, if you have Paul George, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard on the same team, does it really matter which warm body is starting at center?