Social Nav Bar Overrides - v2019


Global Sub Nav - v2019


Blank Spacer - 20px


Center of Attention

Sophomore Big Man Ante Zizic Opening Eyes in Vegas
by Joe Gabriele Beat Writer

Center of Attention

Sophomore Big Man Ante Zizic Opening Eyes in Vegas

The poor kid. Ante Zizic just turned old enough to drink a beer or play blackjack and he’s already being called a “dinosaur.”

But that’s what happens when you play a position that, in today’s NBA, is almost a blast from the past.

Popularized by the Golden State Warriors, today’s NBA has gone away from the traditional center – instead favoring players who can stretch the floor. Today’s game is about stretch-4s, combo-guards, floor-spacers and swingmen. Seven-footers routinely have the green light from beyond the arc. Kevin Love – not exactly the Artis Gilmore-type – started 48 games in the middle for the Eastern Conference Champs last season.

(Ironically, it was the Warriors who recently landed one of the league’s true remaining centers – and maybe its best (DeMarcus Cousins) – in free agency.)

Ante Zizic might be a throwback player – a down-on-the-block, back-to-the-basket big man – but that doesn’t mean his skill-set is obsolete. In fact, through the first two games of Summer League – and a strong but brief showing late last season – the 21-year-old center has shown that he can pile up all kinds of production.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 7: Ante Zizic #41 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the 2018 Las Vegas Summer League on July 7, 2018 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

As the Cavs split their first two contests in Vegas – topping the Wizards on Friday before falling to the Bulls on Saturday, the “new” Big Z is averaging 20.5 points and 12.5 rebounds through the first three games of Vegas Summer League, shooting 63 percent (19-of-30) from the floor.

(Zizic got Monday’s matchup against the Pacers off for rest.)

He has shown the footwork and patience of a five-year veteran, he’s finishing strong with both hands and his assertiveness in the post has been tangible so far in Vegas.

”One of my goals (this offseason) was to be patient in the post because before I was always in a rush,” said Zizic. “So now I'm picking my pace and it seems good.”

If his field goal percentage numbers are good, it’s because Cleveland’s Numeral 41 – (chosen because of his birthday, January 4) – doesn’t stray out to the three-point line unless it’s to set a screen or track down a long rebound. And although he’s proven himself a solid passer, he won’t be triggering the offense, like fellow former Adriatic Leaguer, Nikola Jokic.

Zizic plays center. The Five.

After being named the 2015-16 Adriatic League Top Prospect – an honor previously given to impressive recent imports like Nikola Jokic and Dario Saric – the native of Split, Croatia was taken with the 23rd pick of the 2016 Draft by Boston and, by March of last season, was the only roster player remaining from last summer’s blockbuster trade with the Celtics.

(The Wine & Gold have since tabbed Collin Sexton with the pick acquired in the deal.)

Cracking the rotation on a veteran-laden squad like last year’s Cavs wasn’t easy. Zizic racked up 46 DNP-CDs early in the campaign, but kept working with then-assistant Vitaly Potapenko in Cleveland and was very productive in Canton – averaging 16.3 points and 9.4 boards in 18 games with the Charge.

"Over the past season, I was preparing -- working on my body, working on my game, working on everything ..."


When Zizic finally did get his shot – with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson nursing injuries – he was aggressive and confident. The game didn’t seem too big or fast for him.

In 32 appearances, he shot 73 percent from the floor (49-of-67) – netting five games in double-figures, including a 15-point performance on 7-of-9 shooting against the Lakers in early March and a 20-point showing on 7-of-9 shooting in the regular season finale against the Knicks.

"Over the past season, I was preparing -- working on my body, working on my game, working on everything, actually," said Zizic, who was heading directly from the gym to watch his friend Stipe Miocic attempt to defend his heavyweight title. "So I feel much more ready for the league now."

Zizic has had a really nice run for the Wine & Gold here in the desert – and this past Saturday was especially interesting.

After 9 a.m. shootaround at the Cox Pavilion, he returned to the hotel where he watched Croatia top Russia on a 4-3 penalty shootout in the 2018 World Cup (“It was the first time I didn’t take a (pregame) nap,” joked Zizic.) In the early evening, he notched his second straight double-double, notching 25 points and 11 boards against Chicago.

Following the game, Cleveland’s young big went directly to the T-Mobile Arena to support his friend and fellow countryman, Stipe Miocic, tangle with Daniel Cormier for the UFC heavyweight championship – (which didn’t work out as well as they both would’ve hoped).

”It's been tough because he hasn't really played a lot,” said Coach James Posey after Saturday’s performance. “He was in the G League for a little bit, played some games down there, but even when he had the opportunity for us, he played well. He put in the work all season long for this moment right here and he's taking advantage of it.”

Big Z will be back in action when Summer League’s next round tips off later this week – banging in the post, moving bodies and doing what he does best: playing the position as it was originally designed.

60-Second Recap: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics

Ante Zizic Feature - July 10, 2018

Scroll Video up Scroll Video down Scroll Video left Scroll Video right

Cavs Players Provide Company for Patients

As part of the annual Cavaliers Season of Giving, the full squad made the yearly holiday visit to Cleveland Clinic Children’s visiting the young patients and their families.
Dec 9, 2019  |  04:02

GAME RECAP: Sixers 141, Cavaliers 94

Ben Simmons dominates for 34 points and 7 assists as the Sixers beat the Cavaliers 141-94.
Dec 6, 2019  |  00:01

GAME RECAP: Pistons 127, Cavaliers 94

Blake Griffin scores 24 points with five other Pistons scoring in double figures as they beat the Cavaliers 127-94.
Dec 3, 2019  |  00:01

Top Plays of November presented by Lexus

Check out the Wine & Gold's Top Plays from the month of November presented by Lexus.
Dec 1, 2019  |  04:15

GAME RECAP: Bucks 119, Cavaliers 110

Giannis Antetokounmpo scores 33 points as the Bucks get the win over the Cavaliers, 119-110.
Nov 29, 2019  |  00:01

It's Whammer Time in the Cavs New Intro Vid!

Peep the new Cavs intro vid "MC Whammer" that debuted ahead of Saturday's Cavs-Blazers game.
Nov 23, 2019  |  01:15

GAME RECAP: Mavericks 143, Cavaliers 101

Luka Doncic scores 30 points and grabs 7 rebounds as the Mavericks beat the Cavaliers 143-101.
Nov 22, 2019  |  00:01

GAME RECAP: Heat 124, Cavaliers 100

Duncan Robinson scores 29 points and grabs 2 rebounds as the Heat beat the Cavaliers 124-100.
Nov 20, 2019  |  00:00

GAME RECAP: Knicks 123, Cavaliers 105

The Knicks win at home behind 30 points and seven rebounds from Julius Randle, 123-105.
Nov 18, 2019  |  00:01

Cavs vs. Sixers Postgame: Ante Zizic

Cavaliers center Ante Zizic with the media following Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Nov 17, 2019  |  01:21

GAME RECAP: Cavaliers 113, Wizards 100

Tristan Thompson scores 21 points as the Cavaliers get the win over the Wizards 113-100.
Nov 8, 2019  |  00:01

Cleveland Cavaliers 2019-20 Intro

Check out the Cavs intro video played before every game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Oct 29, 2019  |  01:06

Cavs Players Remember Fred McLeod

Cavs players remember the late Fred McLeod during a special in-arena moment on Saturday evening at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Oct 26, 2019  |  01:53

Cavs Host Annual Big Shots & Little Stars Fundraiser

Forty very special children enjoyed an adventure-filled night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Saturday, October 19 where the red carpet was rolled out and they were treated like the stars that they are.
Oct 24, 2019  |  03:47

Rent's Due: Training Camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers

Go behind-the-scenes from Cavaliers Training Camp and Preseason with this exciting documentary.
Oct 22, 2019  |  18:26

A Look into Training Camp Coming Soon

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Cavaliers Training Camp this Tuesday afternoon when "Rent's Due: Training Camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers" launches on
Oct 20, 2019  |  00:57

Cavs Remember Their Craziest Hairstyles

For National Hair Day on October 1, the Wine & Gold talked about some of the craziest hairstyles they had growing up.
Oct 1, 2019  |  01:10

Players and Coaches Attend VIP Reception at the New Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

On Friday, September 27, Cavaliers players and coaches attended a VIP reception to celebrate the transformation and reopening of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Sep 28, 2019  |  01:25

DRIVEN: Koby Altman | EP 3: 'Chances to Grow'

General Manager Koby Altman grants exclusive access into the Wine & Gold's offseason in the final episode of this three-part series, presented by Goodyear.
Aug 23, 2019  |  03:41

Single Game Tickets On Sale Now!

Cavs basketball is coming soon! Get your single game tickets now by visiting
Aug 16, 2019  |  00:30

Catching Up with Ante Zizic in Utah

Cavaliers center Ante Zizic spoke with following Friday's Summer League practice in Park City, Utah as the Wine & Gold prep for Summer league play.
Jun 28, 2019  |  02:27

Ante Zizic 2018-19 Highlights

Check out some of the best plays from Ante Zizic’s 2018-19 campaign with the Wine & Gold.
Apr 24, 2019  |  02:01

Top Plays of 2018-19 presented by Lexus

From clutch shots to posterizing dunks, has your best moments from the 2018-19 campaign.
Apr 12, 2019  |  12:38

Cavs Gift Jerseys and Shoes to Wine & Gold Nation

Lucky members of Wine & Gold Nation got to join the Cavaliers on the court following Tuesday's Fan Appreciation Night to receive the game-worn jerseys and shoes.
Apr 9, 2019  |  11:38

GAME RECAP: Hornets 124, Cavaliers 97

Jeremy Lamb leads Charlotte past Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Apr 9, 2019  |  00:00

Collin and Ante Tough Their Way to a Bucket

Collin Sexton finds Ante Zizic down low for the basket midway through the third quarter on Tuesday night.
Apr 9, 2019  |  00:19

GAME RECAP: Spurs 112, Cavaliers 90

Brandon Knight and Collin Sexton both tally 16 points in Cavs loss to Spurs on Sunday afternoon.
Apr 7, 2019  |  00:00

Z.0 Toughs His Way to the Basket in the Second Quarter

Ante Zizic powers his way to the basket in this ‘More Driven Highlight’ driven by Goodyear.
Apr 7, 2019  |  00:14

  • Facebook
  • Twitter