Los Angeles Lakers: 3 takeaways from Christmas win over Warriors

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

3. Ivica Zubac’s recent play could be for real

A position of weakness for the Los Angeles Lakers is becoming a strength in numbers in the recent week. JaVale McGee has been out of the lineup for the last five games with pneumonia and the team wasn’t playing particularly well in his absence. Tyson Chandler seemed like a logical replacement in the starting lineup, but Ivica Zubac has taken McGee’s starting spot and minutes while impressing for the team.

Zubac, a fan favorite since his rookie season in 2016-17, has rarely appeared in non-garbage time games throughout his short career. Zu has a solid post game, but fouls a great deal and is not the most agile defender. But in his new increase in minutes, Zubac is playing his best basketball of his career on both sides of the floor.

He is averaging 17.7 points per game while starting the last three games, shooting a ridiculous 78.1 percent from the field. Zubac has two double-doubles (8.7 rebounds per start) and 2.7 blocks over the last three games, perhaps the most impressive number of this turnaround stretch.

The Croatian big man has always been able to be productive offensively using his IQ, soft touch and ambidexterity finishing ability, but the more he can protect the rim, the more playing time there will be for him.


Tyson Chandler offers very little outside of offensive rebounding on that side of the floor, so perhaps Zubac could take some of his playing time and give the Lakers an offensive big when JaVale returns. Suddenly, the big man position has at least three viable players fighting for playing time.