At 19 years old and living in the United States for the first time, Ivica Zubac surprised nearly everyone with how effective his play was. He ranked second among all rookies in field goal percentage (52.9) and started at center for his final 10 games before missing the last two weeks of the season with a high-ankle sprain. Zubac was solid when he was among the starting five, averaging 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Below is a summary of his exit interview with assembled media on Thursday:
– After missing the final seven games of the season, Zubac says his ankle feels much better and that he plans to begin running at the end of the week. He says that if the season were still ongoing, he would be playing.
– Zubac plans to spend the majority of his summer here in Los Angeles. He will also suit up for the Lakers’ Summer League team.
– The 19-year-old came to the Lakers with plenty of confidence, but also showed gratitude for Luke Walton and his staff giving him a chance to play as a rookie: “I earned my opportunity, but they were the ones who believed in me and gave me a chance.”
– Zubac wants the starting center spot next season, but does not expect it to simply be handed to him. In regard to Timofey Mozgov, he said, “Whoever can help the team win is going to be the guy who’s going to start.”
– Zubac said that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka relayed that the Lakers “can’t have any more seasons like this” in his exit interview. He said the goal for next year is to make the playoffs.
– L.A. has been a whole new world for Zubac, who is still getting used to being recognized at restaurants and stuck on the freeways. “We don’t have that kind of traffic in Croatia.”