LA Clippers Head Coach Tyronn Lue confirmed on Tuesday that Ivica Zubac will remain the team’s starting center entering the postseason.
During his pregame press conference, Lue stated that, despite the team’s hopes that Serge Ibaka will return from a lower back injury that has kept him sidelined for over a third of the season, Zubac has solidified himself.
The confirmation doesn’t come as too much of a shock, as it might’ve been a bit difficult to reintegrate Ibaka as the starting center after such an extended absence. Zubac has fit in seemlessly with the starters this year, and has experience as a starter dating back to last season.
Zubac is currently averaging a solid 10.5 points and 7.9 rebounds in 26.7 minutes of action as the starting center. His pick-and-roll chemistry with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George has grown immensely, and he’s become a solid rim protector, though he does have a propensity to commit fouls (he’s averaging 4.2 fouls per 36 minutes, compared to Ibaka’s 2.9 per 36).
Lue obviously has the right to change his mind as the postseason progresses. Depending on who the Clippers face should they advance in the playoffs, they might need more minutes from Ibaka rather than Zubac, assuming he’s healthy. There might also be times where Lue elects to go centerless, swapping in Nicolas Batum and sliding Marcus Morris Sr. up to the five spot.
It’s a luxury for Lue to have options, but it seems he wanted to make it clear that Zubac has earned this starting spot.