Nikola Topic could be the next big European hit in the NBA. The NBA is experiencing a steady influx of excellent players from Europe and it can be seen in some of the league’s current stars. Nikola Jokic, Victor Wembanyama and others are carving their way through the best hoops league in the world, and this trend is going to continue earnestly.
That said, here’s another young prospect from Europe (specifically, the basketball-crazy nation of Serbia) that’s sure to hit American shores one way or another. Nikola Topic is projected as a high-level draft pick, and here’s a quick look at the young baller’s strengths, weaknesses, and current draft stock as of this writing.
Nikola Topic scouting report
Topic’s official measurements outside of the 2024 NBA Draft Combine are as follows. He stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs around 200 lbs. Aside from that, the young point guard for Serbian club KK Crvena Zvezda has a hefty 7-foot wingspan, which is an excellent length for a point guard.
As previously mentioned, Nikola Topic is a big and agile guard that can present a lot of mismatch problems. Put a smaller defender on him, and he has the size and heft to carve a way into the basket. Put a bigger defender on him, and they’ll likely lack the foot speed to keep up with him on the floor.
Once he’s exploited the weaknesses of the defense, Topic also has the finishing ability to create his own shot and the IQ to find open teammates. He averaged 16.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and an excellent 6.1 assists in Serbia‘s Adriatic Basketball League, which is more than enough proof of his facilitation and scoring abilities.
Topic’s passing often finds his teammates in stride cutting to the basket or in rhythm on the perimeter, delivering the ball right into their scoring pockets.
Perhaps the greatest toolset in Nikola Topic’s offense is his knack for finishing at the basket in traffic. A lot of his highlights have him attacking the heart of the defense and having the craftiness to complete a play over any type of defender. As a right-handed player, he’s also shown a knack for finishing a lot of his layups with his off-hand.
Topic is likewise an outside threat that already has NBA-level range on his jumpshot (if he hits them, that is; more on this later). He can spot up and also make jumpers off the dribble if his lane to the basket is cut off.
All in all, Nikola Topic’s greatest strength is his gravity. His scoring attracts a lot of defensive pressure, opening passing lanes up to his teammates. This and his height combined allow him to keep scanning the floor for passing opportunities.
Perhaps his biggest weakness is that he doesn’t have the ability to affect the game without the ball in his hands (via 247Sports). Granted, he is a point guard and having the ball is his job. But the modern NBA game puts a ton of value in players who could be assets on the floor with or without the ball in their hands.
More specifically, he has a lot of work to do on defense, as he’s not taking advantage of his physical attributes as much on this end of the floor.
A guard with his length should be able to bother shorter ballhandlers with his wingspan, but short guards in the NBA are of an entirely different caliber. They could easily overwhelm him with their sheer athleticism, and his size means he can’t catch them as soon as he bites on their first step.
Lastly, Topic’s jumpshot is there, but there’s not a lot of smoothness. His shooting form looks a little stiff and not at all viable if he’s trying to shoot off the dribble. This could mean that he’ll be far more effective as a spot-up shooter, but modern NBA teams play a lot of motion offense and they already have their designated spot-up snipers. That simply will not be Topic’s job if he does make it to the league.
Nikola Topic NBA Draft projection
Nikola Topic’s NBA Draft projection is quite high. According to Sports Illustrated, he is expected to be at least a lottery pick in the draft, barring any major injury. This is extremely high praise for the young man. Realistically, he could be a fit for any team given his potential, but many believe the Washington Wizards would be a good match.