Los Angeles Lakers: Ivica Zubac has been practicing his three-point shot

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 7: Brook Lopez
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 7: Brook Lopez /

Ivica Zubac had a difficult season struggling to receive regular playing time. Anyhow it did not prevent him from observing his veteran teammates and practicing his three-point shot all season long.

It was not the nicest of seasons for Los Angeles Lakers sophomore Ivica Zubac. A rough start collecting a series of DNP’s and games spent on the inactive list took by surprise the Croatian native who so much showed at the end of last season.

An uphill battle in Summer League did not work in his favor but does not seem enough to justify such a drop in playing time. The acquisitions of Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut in an attempt to make a playoff run counted against the young center.

Zubac had no alternative than to keep working and make the most of the minutes spent playing for the South Bay Lakers in the G League. The release of Andrew Bogut finally opened the doors for the Croatian to regain legitimate NBA playing time.

It did not take him long to pick up where he left a year ago. Despite the difficult start of the season, Big Zu made an impact down the stretch, also having some key performance in Lakers‘ thrilling comebacks.

Although an adverse first half of season might be found guilty of a slowdown in Zubac’s development, this was not a wasted season.

The young center had the chance to learn from many different veterans at his position in a crucial year as the sophomore season is. Big men who have had different experiences in the NBA probably tutored Z sharing their acquaintance of NBA life on and off the court to support his growth as NBA player.

More from Lake Show Life

Brook Lopez, an All-Star with a diverse skill set who experienced the toughness of playing for a team always at the bottom.

Andrew Bogut, a defensive center with championship experience who spent four seasons playing for the Golden State Warriors.

Channing Frye, pioneer of floor stretchers who has been coached by Mike D’antoni and won a ring alongside LeBron James.

A nice group of teachers, not every big man has the luxury to spend time with for a whole season. They hopefully imparted valuable lessons based on their knowledge and abilities.

Over time we will see how much of an impact these teachings made, expecting to see Zubac take another step next year.

During his exit interview, following a direct question, he addressed his long-range game.

"I’ve been working on my three-point shot for a whole year, but never really got a chance to show it off in the games because I was getting limited minutes and when I get those minutes I don’t wanna waste them on shooting threes […]. I’m gonna be working on it the whole summer and hopefully I get a bigger chance and I’ll start to shooting threes."

If that next step we are hoping for is outside the arc, it would work out wonderfully for Ivica, who had plenty to learn on that area of the game from Lopez and Frye. Furthermore, if the former (an unrestricted free agent) followed a path away from LA, the outside touch might help the chances for the 20-year-old to take the stage as Lakers’ starting center.

Otherwise, a small taste of a Zu and Lopez pairing has tickled our fancy this season and there might be more fun to come envisioning the two 7-footers shooting threes together.

In an NBA progressively getting away from the paint and outside the three-point line, centers are not exempted from long-range duties. It sounds encouraging to hear from Zubac his commitment to continue to be working on it.

Next: Lakers 10 Greatest Draft Picks of All-Time

Although he did not have much of a chance this past year, the time will come for him to showcase his effort. In a not-too-distant future, his ability to stretch the floor will likely become a decisive factor in determining playing time.