For someone that was the No. 32 pick in his draft class, Ivica Zubac has had a successful NBA career and last season was among his most productive seasons to date. In 76 starts for the Los Angeles Clippers, Zubac averaged career-highs in points (10.3), rebounds (8.5), assists (1.6) and blocks (1) per game. He also ranked fifth in the NBA in effective field goal percentage (62.6%).
And yet, Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank believes the 25-year-old center still has plenty of room to grow as a player. Frank acknowledged that it’s unlikely Zubac will be a “focal point” if the team is at full strength next season, but he didn’t rule out Zubac making another leap.
“To win a championship, regardless if it’s from the center position or from others, you need to have rim protection,” Frank told reporters during his end-of-season media availability in April. “You have to be a competent rebounder. Zu’s impact at the rim, I think he’s just going to continue to get better. We’re super encouraged with Zu, and we still think he has other levels that he can definitely reach.”
One area that stands out as an opportunity for improvement is Zubac’s 3-point shooting. In his first 2.5 seasons with the Clippers, Zubac attempted a total of 10 shots from behind the arc and only made one — that’s probably why he didn’t attempt any 3-pointers in the 2021-22 campaign.
The good news for Zubac is the Clippers don’t need him to be a knock down 3-point threat. As long as he continues to be a force on the glass and a stout deflector at the rim, he’ll have a spot in Tyronn Lue’s rotation, at least in the regular season. And if he can expand his game as a shooter and a playmaker, it will be even harder to take him off of the floor.