The Los Angeles Lakers should just shut down Brook Lopez for the rest of the year and see what Ivica Zubac has to offer. On the outside looking in, it seems harsh, but what do the Lakers have to lose by doing so? For the season, Lopez has been a complete bust since coming over in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets this offseason.
During his tenure in Brooklyn, Lopez averaged 18 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor. In his lone season with the Lakers, Lopez has averaged just 11.8 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 43 percent from the field. To add on to the issues, according to Spotrac, is that Lopez is making $21 million this year to put up those awful numbers.
The Lakers were not able to move Lopez during the NBA trade deadline and by the looks of things, they will be forced to let him walk this offseason with nothing in return. Rob Pelinka thought they were getting one of the best offensive centers in the league, instead, the Lakers received a carbon-copy of Roy Hibbert. With the Lakers season basically in a tailspin, it’s time to look toward the future with Zubac.
With the Lakers set to make a huge splash in free agency this offseason, one position that is a tad weak could work in the Lakers’ favor. Zubac, just hitting the tender age of 20, is in his second season in the NBA. However, he may be thrown into the fire soon enough. In 2016, Zubac played in 38 games while starting 11 and managed to average 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the floor. This season, his time has been limited to just 18 games, but when giving more than his normal five minutes per, Kubac has responded rather nicely.
Only twice this season has he played more than 15 minutes but when he has, his production has been better than Lopez’s. In his last game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 2, Zubac scored 19 points on 8-8 shooting and pulled down 11 rebounds in 20 minutes. If Luke Walton is serious about the future, then the Lakers must find a way for Zubac to crack the rotation.
Yes, he’s young and Lopez is the bigger name of the two, but Lopez has not lived up to his end of the bargain. Lakers’ fans should remember the name, Andrew Bynum. There was once a young kid riding the Lakers’ bench many figured wasn’t ready for the NBA. However, after going dunk for dunk with Shaq in a game, Bynum got his wish and the Lakers got two championships out of it. Not saying that Zubac is the next Bynum, but unless he hits the floor on a consistent basis, the Lakers will not know what they have at the end of their bench.
Sitting Lopez will not hurt the Lakers’ chances of winning, when in fact, it may increase their chances. The Lakers are a youthful team who loves to run. Lopez was never that type of player to get up and down the court. Zubac fits Walton’s scheme better with his ability to rebound, run, and defend. If the 2018 offseason is the measuring stick for the Lakers’ future, it would be wise for them to see if adding a center will be at the top of the list with LeBron James and Paul George.