Utah Jazz Draft Prospect: Serbian Guard Nikola Topic

Jun 10, 2024, 5:29 PM

A general view of the Wintrust Arena during the NBA Draft Combine

SALT LAKE CITY – Serbian guard Nikola Topic is projected to be selected in the lottery of the 2024 NBA Draft where the Utah Jazz own the tenth pick.

The Jazz own three of the top 32 selections in the 2024 draft allowing them to add valuable pieces to their already young core.

Here’s how Topic would fit with the Jazz if he lands in Utah in late June.

Related: Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Draft Prospects

Utah Jazz Draft: Nikola Topic – G – Serbia

Stats: 14.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists: .498/.306/.878

Strengths: The first thing that jumps out with Topic is his playmaking where he finds teammates on entry passes, skip passes, outlet passes, and in the pick and roll.

There aren’t blindspots on the floor when Topic has the ball, and not only did the Serbian guard find his teammates when they were open, but he often made passes to free them from the defense for easy looks.

Though his game isn’t loaded with highlight reel plays, the ease with which his teammates scored on the receiving end of his passes speaks to his advanced feel for the game.

Topic doesn’t have a ton of wiggle with the ball in his hands, but at nearly 6-foot-6 with excellent vision, he creates easy looks at the basket for himself where he finished extremely well at the rim with both hands.

Like many of the better scoring guards in the NBA, Topic uses a combination of strength and hesitation moves to create space for himself to get his shot off inside the paint.

The 18-year-old is a true pass-first point guard and didn’t hunt shots, but he showed an ability to score it the mid-range when his team needed a bucket.

Topic has excellent touch when attacking off the dribble scoring with difficult runners and hook shots with both hands, highlighting his natural overall feel.

The guard rarely over dribbles, and is the type of ball mover that could be contagious for an offense in the NBA.

Weaknesses: Despite his excellent touch on passes and at the free-throw line, Topic is a poor three-point shooter at just over 30 percent.

Opposing defenses regularly backed off of Topic at the three-point line or went under screens in the pick-and-roll and he rarely punished them for it.

If that number doesn’t improve dramatically in the NBA his overall value will diminish for an offense despite his myriad other gifts.

While he measured in at just under 6-foot-6, he still had trouble at times getting his shot off near the rim after overdriving rather than pulling up for a short jump shot which he knocked down with some regularity.

As a defender Topic mostly held his own in Europe, but he won’t be considered a plus defender in the NBA and would need a course correction to be above average.

His size should help him eat up space as an overall team defender, and he did switch onto bigger offensive players in the post at times, but his low steal and block numbers hint that he’s unlikely to be a defensive playmaker during his career.

Topic was headed toward being a top-five pick in the draft, but a torn ACL in January could hurt his draft stock.

Would Nikola Topic Fit With Jazz In The Draft?

Though the Jazz have a slew of guards on the roster, they lack a natural connector like Topic who can find all four teammates on the floor at a moment’s notice.

Topic’s natural feel and high basketball IQ would offer a significant boost to the Jazz’s offense as soon as he stepped on the floor, though his recent knee injury may push that back a full season if teams choose to be conservative with his rehab.

Coach Will Hardy has not been overly reliant on the pick and roll in his time with the Jazz, though he may adjust his offense to better utilize Topic if the team determines the overhaul is worth the results.

However, Topic’s ability to get downhill and force defensive rotations would still generate advantages for the Jazz, even if they don’t run more pick-and-roll.

If Topic’s three-point shooting develops to even an average level (not out of the question for an 18-year-old) he has a chance to be a true game-changer on the offensive end, but has a relatively high floor due to his passing and overall offensive feel.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Utah Jazz Draft Prospect: Serbian Guard Nikola Topic