3 Clippers players who improved their trade value the most

Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ivica Zubac, LA Clippers
Ivica Zubac, LA Clippers – Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Ivica Zubac

Ivica Zubac set career highs in points, rebounds, and blocks in the 2022-23 season for the LA Clippers, proving more than worthy of his team-friendly contract.

Zubac became an elite glass-cleaner this season, averaging 9.9 boards per game and posting the tenth-best rebounding rate in the league. He averaged double-digit points and showed his offensive upside with two 30-point games. His 31-point, 29-rebound, 3-block effort on 14-of-17 shooting was one of this season’s most eye-popping stat lines.

Zubac is also one of the rare centers with a reliable free throw, so coaches won’t have to yank him at the end of close games – he has shot 74% from the charity stripe throughout his career.

Zubac isn’t the fashionable, modern-day center many teams covet. He can’t space the floor and is not a reliable back-to-the-basket scoring threat. He is decent when it comes to guarding the perimeter but vulnerable to the elite shotmakers that the playoffs inevitably bring.

But he’s a quality innings-eater with defined strengths, a high motor, and a willingness to do the dirty work (he averaged nearly four screen assists per game, a top-20 figure). Stars love to ride into battle with precisely that sort of player. He’s low-maintenance and dependable, the minivan nobody gets excited about but that tirelessly carries the family.

With two years and ~$20 million left on his contract, he’s on a team-friendly and easily tradable contract.

So why would LA want to get rid of him? If the Clippers were in the East, Zubac would have a lot more value. But the Western Conference is filled with teams that feast on traditional big men; just look at this year’s series against Phoenix, where Zu struggled against the jumper-heavy Suns. Moreover, coach Ty Lue has always loved going small with the Clippers (sometimes to the team’s detriment), often mothballing Zubac at crunch time.

Zubac is a notch above many of the average centers in the NBA, but he is paid like a quality backup – he makes less per year than Richaun Holmes or Dwight Powell. And at just 26 years old, Zubac should draw plenty of interest if the Clippers decide to make him available.