Lakers Rumors: Ivica Zubac replacing Timofey Mozgov as starting center; Luke Walton reveals plan to change starting lineup

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PHOTOGRAPH: Ivica Zubac/Twitter | Ivica Zubac and Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson

The Los Angeles Lakers continue to struggle in the 2016-17 NBA season and projected to become a lottery team. Coach Luke Walton believes he needs to do something to bring the Lakers back to the winning column. The 36-year-old head coach revealed that they are already having discussions about changing their starting lineup.

In most of their games, Walton used D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Luol Deng, Julius Randle, and Timofey Mozgov as his starters. Other players only had the opportunity to start when one of those players suffered an injury. In their recent games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Jose Calderon started in place of Russell, who is out with an MCL sprain and a right calf injury.

Lakers need to change starting lineup

The outcome of the game showed how the Lakers’ starting lineup’s performance played a major role in their recent struggle. Young was the only starter who scored double-digits with 15 points. Randle and Deng combined for 12 points while Mozgov and Calderon failed to contribute in scoring.

The same thing happened in their 96-88 loss to the Utah Jazz. In the past two games, Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson emerged as the Lakers scoring leaders. As of now, Williams and Clarkson are two of the leading bench scorers in the league.

The Lakers are currently on a three-game losing streak and coach Luke Walton knows he needs to make adjustments. According to Serena Winters of Lakers Nation, Walton admitted that his coaching staffs are already having discussions about shaking their starting lineup.

Ivica Zubac as starting center?

Before the start of the season, coach Luke Walton told Ivica Zubac that he shouldn’t expect much playing time. He also advised him to use his rookie season to improve his skills. However, after receiving enough playing time, Zubac grabbed the opportunity to shine. There is no doubt that he performed beyond Walton’s expectations in the past two games.

“It’s a good message and a good visual when the guys see it on film,” Walton said. “We don’t call any plays for Zu and he ends up with 15 shot attempts because he sets hard screens or rolls hard to the basket with his hands ready and when they collapse, he’s ready to make the pass to the weak side. I think that’s a good lesson for everyone to learn as far as you don’t need play calls for you to get opportunities to score the ball.”

Ivica Zubac played in the Lakers’ last eight games. Against the Jazz, he posted his third double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. If he keeps playing with the same intensity, Walton said that Zubac will earn more minutes. With his improving performance, it will not be a surprise if Zubac becomes the Lakers’ starting center in the succeeding games.

Photo courtesy: @ivicazubac/Twitter

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