Los Angeles Lakers 7’1″ 20 year-old rookie Ivica Zubac will miss the remainder of the season with a high right ankle sprain, the team announced Friday. Zubac suffered the injury in the first quarter of the Lakers’ 119-104 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night.

The following is from NBA.com:

“With that type of ankle injury, it’s normally a pretty long process to get back,” head coach Luke Walton said of Zubac. 

“We’re upset that he won’t be able to get that (experience) and sad for him, because he loves playing and he’s excited every night to go against these guys,” Walton said. “So he’s a little down right now. But he’ll be fine.”

“His touch is unbelievable,” Robinson said. “His IQ for the game is also above any rookie that I’ve seen for the most part. … I just like his pace, his feel for the game.”

Zubac made 38 appearances in his rookie season, averaging 7.5 and 4.2 rebounds. He impressed the Lakers this season, averaging these stats and becoming a starter. He was selected 32nd in the second round of the 2016 NBA draft, and has proved the teams that passed on him wrong.

This month of March was his best period of play so far. He was able to find his fit, averaging 11.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 20.9 minutes, and shot 57.1 percent from the field. He has become a big player in the Lakers rotation, and could be involved with their strong young core.

Timofey Mozgov is a big reason for Zubac’s success. After the Lakers shut Mozgodown for the season, the door was opened for Zubac. Now the Lakers only have one true center in Tarik Black, and will have to go small for the remainder of the season.

The Lakers are not fighting for a good seed. They are fighting for the worst seed they can get, being that they want to find success in the upcoming draft. They are building for the future and got lucky with Zucac’s surprising breakout season.

The Lakers will evaluate Zubac in two weeks to see where is ankle injury stands. Practically, he will have the whole off-season to get back to being healthy.

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