Zubac Discusses Rookie Growth, Future Plans
At the beginning of his rookie season, Ivica Zubac had trouble simply keeping his cardio up on the court.
Five months later, the recently-turned 20-year-old literally looks like a different person.
Zubac weighed 282 pounds in December but has lost 24 of them in the short amount of time since.
“I can run way more,” Zubac said during his Lakers Voices chat on Thursday. “I’m playing a lot more minutes now. In the beginning of the season if I entered the game and played three minutes — that would be it. … Now I’m feeling great.”
He’s also playing pretty well, especially since joining the Lakers’ starting lineup two weeks ago.
Zubac currently leads this year’s rookie class in field goal percentage (54.2) and became the franchise’s youngest player with a 25-point double-double on March 13.
Much of this progression began in the weight room, where Zubac has been the team’s most frequent visitor.
Strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco keeps a leaderboard based on how many workouts each player does for each part of his body. Zubac currently sits at the top of the list and has a goal to stay up there for at least three seasons.
“My biggest focus this summer is my body,” Zubac said. “I want to get stronger. I want to get slimmer. I’m already slimmer, but I want to get some muscles so I can fight all these guys in the post.”
Zubac has other plans for his game this summer, which include diversifying his skill set a la Marc Gasol, whom Zubac says he models his game after.
Year two of Zu promises to be an intriguing one as he continues to get used to the speed of the NBA. But, in the town that once cheered for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the most intriguing development will be that of his skyhook.
Zubac has worked throughout the year on this shot with the Lakers’ legendary adviser, Bill Bertka, who mentored Abdul-Jabbar and other Lakers bigs. Zubac says that next season will be his turn to break out the skyhook.
"I don't feel like I'm ready to use it in a game," Zubac said. "I want to work on it a lot to be sure in that shot; to shoot it with confidence so I know I can make that shot."
Zubac’s fellow rookie, Brandon Ingram, did not finish Thursday’s practice due to right patellar tendinitis.
Ingram, who has scored double figures in nine straight games while averaging 15.2 points, will have his status for Friday’s game determined that day.
Recent Stories on Lakers.com