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Ivica Zubac – 7’0” Center, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 19 Years Old
Ivica Zubac started his career at Cibona Zagreb after coming through their youth system. Zubac then moved on to KK Zrinjevac Zagreb who play in the second division; he played with KK throughout the 2013-14 season. Zubac returned to Cibona Zagreb after being offered the chance to play for their senior team, where he joined a talented group of prospects, the likes of 19-year-old power forward Nik Slavica and center Ante Zizic. Zizic has also entered this year’s draft. These three talents replaced Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric after he left to play elsewhere in Europe before being drafted. Zubac played in the Adriatic League in his first year and also saw playing time with Croatia in the FIBA Europe Cup. In early 2016, Zubac left Cibona Zagreb due to the teams financial difficulties, and Zubac moved on quickly, signing with the Serbian team Mega Leks.
Zubac has very good length; with a wingspan measured at 7’4” the big center shouldn’t have any trouble swatting shots inside the paint. Zubac is mobile for a 7 footer and can help run the pick and roll due to his very sharp lateral movement. He is only 19 years old, so he has plenty of room to grow and should do so with ease. Zubac has plenty of international experience playing for Croatia and several tournaments. Just like so many European talents, Zubac’s numbers don’t do his abilities justice. Zubac is an excellent offensive rebounder and can finish through contact. As his career has gone on his elbow and free throw percentages have slowly risen, which shows that Zubac could over time become a solid mid-range shooter, whether he does so in the NBA or back in Europe is another question.
Zubac may have an elite wingspan but he isn’t overly athletic, and he has a bit of a problem with injuries. Zubac broke his foot in 2014 and injured his knee in 2015. Back to back injuries won’t look good when teams evaluate Zubac. Despite having the potential to develop a mid-range shot, he currently isn’t a threat unless he’s around 5-6 feet from the basket. This may limit Zubac if he fails to develop further away from the basket. Zubac also needs to commit to staying in the post more, often he looks to pass the ball away even when he has found himself a mismatch in the post. Zubac is a useful player to have in pick and roll situations, but can sometimes be naïve, committing unnecessary fouls by moving his hips to early and causing contact with the defender. Zubac needs to focus more on defensive rebounds, as mentioned earlier Zubac is a very good offensive rebounding center, but can lack focus on the other end, something you can get away with in the NBA.
Zubac will need to impress at his workouts. He has buckets of potential but will definitely need to showcase his abilities in front of NBA scouts and coaches. Zubac could develop into a solid NBA center, but he will find it to be a difficult journey. It’s very unlikely Zubac ever develops into star into the NBA, but if he fulfills his potential, he can be successful.
NBA Player Comparison
Zubac is fairly similar to Andrew Bogut. Bogut knows his expectations and plays to his strengths. Bogut knows he’s not a star and that he has a role and he does it well. Bogut won’t pull up for a three or a mid range shot because he knows he cant do it. Zubac would do very well to model himself going forward in that Bogut mold.
Main Photo via FIBA.com