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Zubac Will Be Key for Clippers This Season

With the NBA season already underway, the Los Angeles Clippers will begin their quest to win this franchise’s first NBA championship against their cross-town rival Los Angeles Lakers in the season opener.

This team is expected to make a massive leap this season despite not even qualifying for the playoffs last season. The return of superstar Kawhi Leonard to the team after not playing last season elevates their title hopes. He played in two of the team’s four preseason games and looked well on his way to regaining his Finals MVP form. Fellow All-Star Paul George is also back and fully healthy after only playing in just 31 games last season because of a right elbow injury. 

The fact that LA is projected to win 51.5 games this season according to Caesar sports book, which says a lot of what others outside of the organization thinks about this roster, and there’s a lot to be excited about. There’s  a lot of depth that head coach Ty Lue can work with on any given night. They have the pieces to create mismatches at any time and the versatility on the perimeter has this team favored to make a deep run.

Much was made of John Wall’s arrival in LA; one of the league’s most underrated point guards has been resting and waiting for his chance and will now have a shot at redemption with the Clippers. The biggest x-factor, though, might just be big man Ivica Zubac. The 7-footer from Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina who was originally drafted by the cross-town rival Lakers in the 2nd round (32nd overall) back in 2016 has exponentially gotten better each season in a Clippers uniform. He averaged career-highs across the board with 10.3 ppg and 8.5 rebounds last season in 76 starts. 

He held his own against the reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic in a game back in January against Denver when he had a career-high 32 points and 10 rebounds. He had 25 double-doubles last season, almost twice as many as he had the previous year.  As it stands right now, Zubac is the only legitimate big man on this roster that has the experience that coach Ty Lue can count on based on his production over the years. They have Moses Brown a 7’2 big man, but he is on his 5th team in four seasons so he might just be looked at as an emergency backup, and they drafted Moussa Diabate in the 2nd rd (43rd overall) out of Michigan who had a big dunk in that final preseason game against Denver, but we still don’t know how ready he is to contribute for this team.

There are plenty of talented big men that this Clippers team will have deal with through out the league, and LA will count on Zubac to battle with them and be productive like he did against the two-time MVP from Denver. They’re not looking for a career-highs from him, but for him to continue getting better because they’ll need him in the playoffs. His health and his ability to stay out of foul trouble throughout the season is just as important to this team as his teammates that will have the ball in their hands out on the perimeter a majority of the time. 

He’s also been a solid rim protector for this team when he’s been on the floor. He averaged one block per game last season, but he altered and changed a lot of shots for opposing players when they got to the basket that helped LA to be one of the better defensive teams. 

Some nights shots aren’t going to fall for this team and they will need easy baskets around the rim and Zubac is more than capable of doing so, when given the opportunity. He will be counted on throughout the season more than people realize.     

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