Who will be considered the ‘X-factor’ for the LA Clippers this season?

Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Last season, Ivica Zubac started 76 games for the LA Clippers making him the primary center for head coach Tyronn Lue. During the midst of the off-season, Zubac signed a 3-year contract extension to keep him with the Clippers for the years ahead. He has shown steady improvement in all areas of his game since joining the Clippers and has quietly become one of the team’s most valuable players.

Last season, when many of the starters were dealing with injuries, Zubac stepped in and made significant contributions. Not only did he average career highs all across the board, but he also provided a consistent presence in the paint.

Now that the LA Clippers are back to full strength, the expectation for Zubac is to continue to develop under the basket and provide strong interior defense. The next logical progression for Zubac is to average a double-double by the end of the 2022-23 NBA season.

Ivica Zubac’s durability will be key if the LA Clippers are aiming to win the NBA Finals.

The addition of a former All-Star point guard will pave the way for Ivica Zubac to having another career year for the LA Clippers. Based on his field-goal percentage last season, Zubac will continue to make the most of his opportunities on offense. In addition, he should easily be able to average north of ten rebounds per game.

Furthermore, Zubac posted 25 double-doubles last season and proved he was an integral part of the LA Clippers’ starting lineup. If he can continue to move the needle on his scoring and rebounding, an All-Star selection could be in the works for the seven-footer. Oftentimes, modern-day centers take many years to fully develop. As Zubac will be entering his seventh season in the NBA, he could be nearing his prime years with the LA Clippers.

Zubac’s improved passing will also prove to benefit his superstar teammates in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. On top of his other accomplishments, Zubac averaged 1.6 assists per game last season, which was the best of his career.

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All of these reasons indicate that Zubac may very well be the ‘X-factor’ for Lue and the LA Clippers. While there may be several small-ball lineups, it is necessary to have a capable big man like Zubac when going up against other contending teams. Zubac’s efficiency and interior defense will prove to be pivotal towards the Clippers’ success in the upcoming season.