2024 NBA Draft scouting report: Nikola Topic

Nikola Topic stands out from the 2024 NBA Draft class due to his impressive productivity overseas.

Nikola Topic, KK Crvena Zvezda
Nikola Topic, KK Crvena Zvezda / ALTAN GOCHER/GettyImages

We truly don't know what will happen in the 2024 NBA Draft. The race for No. 1 is wide open. So wide open, in fact, that we should place special emphasis on the "unconventional" prospects. Nikola Topic is a 6-foot-6 point guard from Serbia with a shaky jumper and a poor reputation on defense. And yes, he is the No. 1 prospect on the FanSided board.

NBA teams are going to think outside the box more than ever this draft cycle. European prospects are often disrespected in U.S. circles. We saw multiple front offices twist themselves into pretzels to avoid taking Luka Doncic, one of the most productive and accomplished European teenagers of all time, No. 1 overall.

Topic won't wow at-home viewers with vertical displays of athleticism. He doesn't necessarily fit the common aesthetic we associate with elite guard prospects. The pull-up jumper doesn't really exist. He is endlessly crafty, but he won't drop a defender like Kyrie Irving.

He is not your standard top pick, but with so little certainty about the other high-end prospects, it's hard to ignore Topic's raw production overseas. The 18-year-old began his season with Mega MIS, Serbia's most famous prospect pipeline. He excelled against pro competition, averaging 18.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in 13 games.

After his red-hot start to the season, Topic was recalled to Euroleague's KK Crvena Zvezda to compete at the highest level of professional basketball outside the U.S. He started strong, but an untimely knee injury sidelined Topic only a couple games into his Red Star stint.

Despite the sprained knee, Topic figures to hover around the top of draft boards all season. For the right team, he's the perfect No. 1 gamble — a talented ball-handler who compromises defenses and creates for teammates.

Nikola Topic NBA Draft bio

Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 200 pounds
Birthdate: Aug. 10, 2005
Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard
Offensive Role: Primary creator
Defensive Role: Wing
Projected Draft Range: 1-10

NBA Draft highlights


When it comes to projecting stardom at the next level, the single most important "trait" — and trait is a broad term here, as it can have myriad meanings — is a player's ability to create advantages. Stardom is itself a broad term, but with point guards in particular, it's a given that you must be able to generate offense from scratch. Not simply to run designed plays and "set the table," so to speak. A star point guard has to be able to single-handedly crack fissures in a set defense.

Bleacher Report draft expert Jonathan Wasserman made the rather bold comparison to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. That's a high bar to set, but Topic's size, finishing touch, and comfort shifting gears all align with SGA on an archetypal level. SGA leads the NBA in drives per game. If Topic gets the minutes and touches, he will fall near the top of that leaderboard, too.

Topic is an absolute handful driving the lane. He can accelerate at the drop of a hat, blessed with a dynamic first step and a preternatural sense of when to press the turbo button. He can just as easily force defenders off-balance with jittery handles, working patiently to find the right angle to the rim.

He still has room to grow as a facilitator, but Topic's ability to get both feet in the paint and collapse a defense has a ton of value. He is going to locate open shooters and use his gravity to locate cutters at the rim. He's a smart, savvy playmaker. When it comes to legitimate creator bets in the 2024 class, none can quite touch Topic.


Despite the overwhelming positives, Topic has a few red flags that will scare off NBA teams. It starts with the 3-point shot. Topic can hit 3s, especially spotting up, but his form is rigid and there's little pull-up game to speak of. That translates to the mid-range, too. Topic can hit runners and touch shots in the paint, but he generally needs to get to the rim to be effective. If NBA teams aren't worried about him on the perimeter, it's not difficult to connect the dots. Defenses will load up the paint and force Topic to beat them from outside. He's fast, but he's not Ja Morant, unstoppable fast. Topic has to earn respect from 3-point range.

Topic also doesn't get vertical. He is going to rely on touch and craft around the basket. I'm confident Topic's rim finishing will translate, but there's always lingering concern that NBA athleticism and shot-blocking will impact a prolific below-the-rim prospect more than expected.

Also... defense. Topic is not a good defender. There's not much to it. He's stiff in space, he doesn't supply consistent effort at the point of attack, and he lacks the strength to handle more physical scorers at 6-foot-6. He is going to be stuck between positions on defense at the next level. He needs to add muscle and work on fighting over screens. The basketball I.Q. is there, so not all hope is lost. But Topic is going to enter the NBA with an iffy jumper and a poor defensive profile, so there's plenty to overcome before he delivers on No. 1 hype.

Final summary

Flaws and all, Nikola Topic is a standout prospect in the 2024 class. He has been productive at the highest levels of professional basketball in Europe. He consistently performs against grown men, and there's innate value in his skill set as a creator — an advantage creator. This is the age of tall, arrhythmic ball-handlers. It's difficult to watch SGA or Tyrese Haliburton and not feel better about Topic's future, even if he's not on that level as a prospect.

Topic's underrated skill package will eventually win over the skeptics. It will take the right team to unlock Topic's full impact early on, but he's a high-feel guard that will consistently invade the teeth of the defense and locate shooters. His floor is relatively high, even if his ceiling is tied to concerns about his jumper and defense.

dark. 2024 NBA DRAFT BIG BOARD. Reed Sheppard stock up, Isaiah Collier stock down. Reed Sheppard stock up, Isaiah Collier stock down