Coach Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers continue the development of their young players while slowly diminishing the role of their veterans. According to the latest report, the Lakers will shut down Timofey Mozgov to give Ivica Zubac and Tarik Black more playing time.
The Lakers plan to use the final months of the 2016-17 NBA season to prioritize the development of their young players. Before the trade deadline, Lou Williams, and Marcelo Huertas were traded to the Houston Rockets. The Lakers also waived Jose Calderon and demoted Nick Young to the bench, giving young backcourts D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson more opportunity to improve their skills.
Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, Lakers’ biggest free-agency signing last summer, found themselves out of the rotation. After being demoted to the bench, they are rarely seen in the Lakers’ recent games and could possibly last until the end of the season. Marc J. Spears of ESPN revealed that the Lakers shut down Mozgov to take a stronger look at their younger guys the rest of the season.
The report wasn’t a surprise at all as the Russian center received DNP in nine of the Lakers’ last 11 games. The Lakers started to regret giving Timofey Mozgov as lucrative contract last summer as he failed to live up to expectations. He’s almost non-existent on the defensive end which could be one of the major reasons why the Lakers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league right now.
In 54 games this season, he only averaged 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds on 51.5 percent shooting from the field. As of now, Ivica Zubac served as the Lakers starting center. He spent most of the 2016-17 NBA season with the Los Angeles D-Fenders to improve his skills and physique.
Ivica Zubac a better center than overpriced Timofey Mozgov
After showing a huge improvement, Walton made him an official part of their rotation. In their recent loss to the Denver Nuggets, Zubac established an impressive performance posting 25 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, and one block on 80 percent shooting from the field. He became the youngest player in franchise history to record a 25-point double-double.
“I would like to play against starters,” Zubac said. “Just play my game and try to keep myself out of foul trouble, play hard. I think I can play against every center in this league. Just want to prove myself I’m in the best league in the world for a reason.”
Ivica Zubac continues to prove that he deserves to be the Lakers’ starting center in the succeeding years. With Mozgov officially out of the rotation, it will not be a surprise if the Lakers try to trade him in the offseason.
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