In his first NBA season, 19-year old Ivica Zubac managed to turn heads despite getting limited playing time from head coach Luke Walton. In 16 minutes per game, Zubac’s numbers (7.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 0.9 bpg) from his rookie season aren’t eye-popping, and yet he’s considered an important part of the Lakers’ future.

The continuous development of the Croatian Big Man is going to be one of the major storylines for the Lakers over the next 2-3 years. The Lakers front office is very much aware of the untapped potential Zubac possesses.

It’s just a matter of turning the raw material into a finished product. Luckily for Zubac, an NBA legend and Lakers great wants to help him turn into one of the league’s elite big men.

The sky hook master

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has expressed his interest to re-join the Lakers’ coaching and development staff. After working with Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Shaquille O’Neal in the past, Kareem appears to be interested in working with the Croatian kid after watching him play last season.

In fact, the Lakers great even thinks Zubac can master his patented sky-hook shot because of his length and agility at his size.

“He’s equipped to use it well. He has the length to begin with. If he can develop his shooting touch and agility, he’ll use it well,” Jabbar said of Zubac in an interview with OC Register's Mark Medina.

Should he eventually join the Lakers again, Kareem is going to be a key figure for the development of the Lakers’ big men moving forward, especially Zubac.

The right man for the job

Zubac likes the sky hook a lot.

As a matter of fact, he used that shot during games in both the D-League and with the Lakers last season. Both Kareem and Ivica are finesse-type players. Jabbar was never a physical force. He didn’t overpower his opponents like Shaq did. Instead, he used a series of low-post moves with his footwork to craftily create space and launch that unstoppable sky-hook shot. Zubac also creates most of his shots with his agility and soft touch around the basket.

Andrew Bynum’s transformation into a legit All-NBA center is a testament to Jabbar's teaching. Like Zubac, Bynum exhibited immense potential during his first few years in the league, but was raw.

However, Bynum continued his development under Jabbar’s tutelage and soon became a key contributor. In his seventh year in the league, Bynum had his breakthrough year as he averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game and made it to the All-NBA second team. Unfortunately, a series of injuries and questionable work ethic derailed Bynum’s budding career. Jabbar even admitted that Bynum didn’t have the hunger to strive for greatness.

Hopefully he can find it in Zubac.

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