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NBA Free Agency 2023: The Dallas Mavericks should trade for Ivica Zubac

Clippers Mulling Over Zubac Trade: Could the Dallas Mavericks Be Tuning In?

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As whispers echo through the corridors of NBA gossip that the Los Angeles Clippers are considering trading Ivica Zubac, one team that should prick up their ears is the Dallas Mavericks. In the tapestry of their squad, Zubac might be the transformative thread that elevates the Mavs to a new level.

While Ivica Zubac may not be the first name that springs to mind in discussions of contemporary NBA centers, he embodies the quintessential archetype of today’s big man. He eschews the penchant for frequent post touches reminiscent of the 1990s giants, yet he deftly sidesteps the stereotype of the ungainly titan lacking finesse and ball control. Zubac elegantly balances the demands of modern basketball, crafting a niche for himself that makes him a vital asset in the game’s current landscape.

As reported by Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Clippers have cast Ivica Zubac into the vortex of potential trades. Last season, Zubac painted an impressive canvas of 10.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, and one blocks per game in his 76 starts, setting new personal bests in points and rebounds per game. His nearly double-digit rebounds per game etched his name at the 11th spot in the league standings, cementing his reputation as a dependable contributor for the Clippers. Over his five-season tenure with the Clippers, Zubac has been nothing short of a stalwart defender in the paint. His resilience and reliability are further underscored by his attendance record, having featured in at least 70 games in each of the past four seasons.

Speculations linking Zubac as part of the prospective Harden deal are yet to be substantiated. Yet, viewing the Sixers’ landscape, the need for Zubac seems less apparent given his positional overlap with the reigning MVP, Joel Embiid. The Sixers may balk at the idea of shelling out Zubac’s $22 million paycheck for what would essentially be a backup center role.

However, the whispers surrounding Zubac’s trade prospects may be indirectly related to the James Harden trade. It is plausible that the Clippers envision constructing a dream team around the triumvirate of Harden, George, and Leonard, and unfortunately, Zubac might not fit this blueprint.

Zubac possesses a myriad of skills that make him an asset on the court. His gentle finesse around the basket and consistent right hook almost guarantee success when he operates within the paint. Despite his substantial physique, Zubac moves across the court with grace, excels at setting up quality screens, and stands out as an exceptional rim-runner.

Additionally, he has solidified his reputation as an effective rebounder, capable of impacting both ends of the court, and his defensive abilities include above-average shot-blocking. An even more fascinating aspect of his game is his emerging ability to read the game’s flow and make the most suitable pass - a skill that holds promise for his future development.

However, when the crucible of the 2023 Playoffs’ first round commenced against the Phoenix Suns, Zubac’s usual tenacious and influential performance waned when it was needed most. His offensive yield subtly dipped to 9.2 points per game, but what stood out was the ebb in his command when the ball was in his court.

Gifted with the ball, Zubac, unfortunately, became prone to mistakes, leading to a hefty 2.2 turnovers per game for the Clippers. Any attempt to dribble often led to faster wing players snatching away his control, painting an uncharacteristic picture of clumsiness. Matched against seasoned strategists like Chris Paul, Zubac appeared to be a navigator lost at sea. Pitted against Deandre Ayton, renowned for lighting up the mid-range, Zubac’s defensive response seemed neither agile nor quick.

Beyond the confines of the paint, Zubac’s threat level doesn’t parallel that of his peers on either end of the court. He doesn’t have the long-range cannon of Karl-Anthony Towns or the orchestrating ability of Nikola Jokic. Yet, perfection is a myth, and every player has their vulnerabilities.

Despite these weaknesses, Zubac’s contributions cannot be underestimated. In the context of a Mavericks squad often challenged by a dearth of size yet nurturing visions of championship triumph, Zubac’s addition represents more than just a valuable asset. His presence could serve as the linchpin that transforms their lofty dreams into tangible victories for the Dallas Mavericks.