Ivica Zubac leads the NBA in one very important statistic: He’s No. 1 in the league with 61 games played, and the Los Angeles Clippers‘ big man is quickly earning a reputation for being one of the league’s most reliable role players.
While starting center Serge Ibaka has been out dealing with a back injury for much of the spring, Zubac has stepped in and has taken full advantage of his increased playing time, putting up solid numbers in relief of Ibaka.
Zubac is averaging 9.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists, and he’s playing 22.3 minutes a game, a career high. He has been extra hot of late, scoring 10+ points in eight of his last 10 games, while also notching two double-doubles in that span.
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Zubac: ‘I Take Pride in Being Ready Every Night’
“I didn’t play much in my first two or three years in the league, so I got my rest early in my career,” Zubac said about playing so much recently, via Mirjam Swanson of the Los Angeles Daily News. “I take a lot of pride in being ready every night, trying to go out there and help the team. As a player who didn’t play much early, I really appreciate every minute on the court, so I try to even sometimes when I’m not feeling well when I’m hurt, I try to tough it out, try to give my best every night.”
The Clippers are on a roll right now, winning 10 of their last 11 games, and Zubac is a primary reason why. The team has managed to stick together during the pandemic, with role players stepping up when starters have battled injuries or needed rest, as is the case with Zubac filling in for Ibaka.
“I’m young and we got an old team,” Zubac said. “So we understand, coaching staff, everyone understands it’s been a very, very hard season, a lot of games in a short span of time, so we understand some guys sometimes they need their rest and it’s just something we got to make sure everyone’s healthy for the playoffs.”
Ty Lue Calls Zubac ‘Iron Man’
The Clips head coach is certainly appreciative of the effort put forth by the big man this season.
“He has the Iron Man thing going, he wants to play, he wants to compete,” Lue said about Zubac. “I always mess with him, like ‘Zu, you gonna play tonight?’ And he says (impersonating Zubac) ’The only time I don’t play, Coach, if you don’t play me.’ He’s always wanting to play, he’s always gonna compete, and he’s young, you know, so he wants to continue to keep getting better and you love that about Zu, you know he’s gonna be on the floor every single night.”
Ibaka is slated to become a free agent this offseason if he doesn’t exercise his player option, so if he leaves, it’s good to know Zubac can be a capable substitute in his absence.
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