San Antonio Spurs Draft Prospect: Ivica Zubac
By Ian Smith
The San Antonio Spurs have had tremendous success with getting key players in later stages of the draft. Wielding the 29th pick won’t discourage the team from feeling as though they can nab a high impact player at that selection. A guy they should consider taking if he’s available is Ivica Zubac.
Zubac is a Croatian center who currently plays for a team called Mega Leks. The team is apart of the Basketball League of Serbia (KLS) and the Adriatic League (ABA League).
He’s listed at 7’1’’ and weighs 265 LBS. His wingspan of 7’4’’ and his intimidating standing reach are employed more on offense than defense. His size seems to aid in finishing ability inside, but not much rim protecting on defense.
He possesses a great deal of speed for a player his size. He can effectively run the floor on fast breaks and is a great finisher around the hoop in transition.
The Spurs don’t play at a very fast pace, but Zubac can also make use of his quickness in a half-court setting. He is difficult for opposing players to guard on rolls to the basket, and he crashes the offensive glass with tenacity.
He’s a fantastic inside scorer with a soft touch around the hoop. He isn’t overtly powerful in the low block, but his impressive post moves create scoring chances for himself.
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On cuts to the basket, he has incredible hands, which set up his adept finishing skills inside. He rarely bobbles passes thrown his way, which is an extremely useful talent in a Spurs offense predicated on rapid ball movement. As an interior scoring threat, he’s got all the tools necessary.
He’s a bit one-dimensional as a scorer, though. He isn’t nearly as effective outside the paint. He has also yet to showcase any significant facilitation skills as a front court player. The Spurs have always utilized post players with great passing skills, and Zubac hasn’t flashed a natural instinct for dynamic playmaking.
At this point, he looks most comfortable being given the ball on isolation plays down low and using his impressive back-to-the-basket moves to score inside. If he’s double-teamed, he’s poised enough to make the right decision passing out of it.
His defensive skills are less intriguing than his offensive ability. Like on offense, Zubac loses effectiveness when he’s dragged out of the painted area. At the NBA level, teams would exploit him on pick-and-rolls.
He lacks instinct as a defensive rebounder and shot blocker, underachieving in those regards despite the length he has. Adding some muscle would probably assist in improving his rebounding skills.
At this stage of his development as a player, Zubac should be viewed as singularly a low-post scorer, but a very talented one. Zubac has a contract set up to provide him with an easy opt-out should he ever be drafted by an NBA team, and he has indicated that he wants to make the jump to the NBA as soon as possible.
This isn’t a typical “draft-and-stash” player. Zubac would most likely provide some instant gratification for whatever team drafts him, although to what degree his production at the NBA level instantly satisfies is unclear.
Zubac is still far from polished as a player, but the skills he already has are very promising. His inside scoring prowess is intriguing, and he can become an even bigger threat on offense if he were to expand his range as a shooter.
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His defensive ascension doesn’t look quite as optimistic, but a wingspan of 7’4’’ will always leave open the possibility that a player can be salvaged through some good coaching and commitment to improving.