Despite coming off the bench as he has all season, Clippers center Ivica Zubac played the final 15 minutes of LA’s narrow loss to the Sacramento Kings.
Head Coach Tyronn Lue rewarded Zubac for his excellent play. The Croatian big man put up his fifth double-double of the season, contributing 12 points and 14 rebounds in 27 minutes. Zubac was a +4 in a game that the Clippers lost 113-110.
It has been a linear progression for Zubac this season. His five double-doubles have all come in his last 11 games. Prior to this, he seemed to be struggling to adjust to his new role as the second-unit center.
Last season, Zubac started 70 of his 72 games. However, after letting Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell walk in free agency and signing Serge Ibaka, LA’s rotation needed retooling. Ibaka is a perfect fit with the starters; he spreads the floor while still protecting the rim, allowing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to operate in space. Zubac’s offensive capabilities are now better suited for the bench, where the Clippers lack in creation beyond Lou Williams.
Zubac and Harrell have entirely different skillsets, but the role needs to be filled, and Zubac has done a great job so far.
Against the Kings, he was aggressive, grabbing five offensive rebounds and outhustling the Kings, despite their size. Although the Clippers could not close out the game with a win, Zubac’s presence was felt.
With Paul George out for an unknown period of time, the Clippers will need Zubac’s offensive prowess.