Zubac saw just two fewer minutes than starter JaVale McGee and turned in a solid, well-balanced performance. The 21-year-old has seen his playing time fluctuate of late while coach Luke Walton continues to juggle what amounts to three viable options at center, but Zubac clearly offers solid scoring and rebounding upside when given sufficient minutes. Factoring in Wednesday's production, the third-year pro is averaging 8.4 points and 5.4 boards across 13.4 minutes over his first five games of January.
Though each of Zubac's previous five starts this season came with JaVale McGee sidelined, the two big men worked alongside one another as coach Luke Walton likely aimed to match up better with the Minnesota frontcourt of Taj Gibson and Karl-Anthony Towns. The move didn't pay dividends, as the Lakers were a minus-19 and minus-23 when Zubac and McGee were on the court, respectively. Expect Zubac to move back to the bench for the second half of the back-to-back set Monday in Dallas and play a lower-minute role behind McGee or potentially get excluded from the rotation entirely.
After a three-game stretch from Dec. 21 through Christmas Day in which he averaged 17.7 points, 8.7 boards and 2.7 blocks, Zubac became a popular waiver-wire pickup. However, his long-term prospects never looked promising once JaVale McGee (illness) was available again, which was made abundantly clear when McGee reclaimed the starting role Sunday in his return from a seven-game absence. Coach Luke Walton elected to keep the defensive-minded Tyson Chandler in the rotation as the backup center, leaving no minutes left over for Zubac, which had been par for the course prior to McGee falling ill. Unless McGee suffers a recurrence of the pneumonia symptoms that affected him recently, fantasy managers who scooped up Zubac can probably move on and explore other roster options.
Zubac was a key component of the surprising Christmas Day blowout win, posting his third straight strong outing in as many starts in place of JaVale McGee (illness). The third-year big was particularly impressive on the defensive glass, with eight of his boards coming on that end of the floor. Zubac continues to show some excellent offensive upside as well, as he's now shot between 66.7 percent and Tuesday's 90.0 percent in his three turns with the first unit. The 21-year-old also has two double-doubles during that span, and with McGee likely to still miss another game at minimum while recovering from his recent bout of pneumonia, Zubac is likely to draw a Thursday start against the Kings.
Zubac will start at center Tuesday against the Warriors.
Zubac played so well the last two games that he will remain in the starting lineup despite the fact Tyson Chandler will return to action Tuesday night.
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