Phoenix Suns draft player profile: Nikola Topic

If the Phoenix Suns end up using the 22nd pick in this year's NBA Draft, then Nikola Topic has to be worth looking at as his stock falls.
Fenerbahce Beko v Kizilyildiz - Turkish Airlines Euroleague
Fenerbahce Beko v Kizilyildiz - Turkish Airlines Euroleague / Anadolu/GettyImages

Out of all the scenarios available to the Phoenix Suns on draft night, the one that would seem the least likely is using their pick on a player that won’t make an impact this year. Yet, with the latest developments surrounding top prospect Nikola Topić, it’s one that they could very well be presented with.

Topić, who has been viewed as mid to late lottery pick, recently tore his ACL. That injury, coupled with subpar combine measurements, has some wondering if he could fall out of the lottery completely and possibly even far enough for the Suns to snag him at pick #22. 

If he does fall that far, the Suns would have to consider taking a flier on a player that fills so many needs for the team.

As a 6’6 point guard, Topić possesses great size for the position and is considered one of the best passers in the draft. That combination of playmaking and size has invariably drawn comparisons to to Luka Dončić, though he isn’t quite that level of prospect. Topić doesn’t exhibit the kind of shooting off the dribble that Dončić does, and is a poor 3-point shooter.

The rest of his offensive game is much more refined and suited to the Suns roster.

They desperately need an additional ball handler, preferably one in the starting lineup. Topić could slot into that unit without making it even smaller like a traditional point guard would. His ability to control the pace of play and break down presses is something the Suns sorely missed last season.

Topić is excellent attacking the rim and does most of his damage inside the arc, converting over 50% of his field goals this season. The Suns also lacked adequate rim pressure last year, so having a player that would change the team's shot profile would be invaluable.

And while Topić lacks athleticism, he makes it work with a shifty style of play which allows him to get to the rim. He's a bit skinny right now, weighing in at under 200 pounds, so he'll need to put on some more weight to deal with NBA centers. When he does, he has the tools to add a low-post game to his repertoire as well.

His athleticism figures to limit him on the other end of the court which is where his biggest question marks lie. Topić doesn’t have the speed to keep up with other guards, but the Suns smaller starting lineup can actually come in handy there.

Both Booker and Beal are much more suited to guarding that position, so Topic can play the 3 on defense. The Suns guards not being matched up against bigger wings like they are now would also be hugely beneficial to their defense.

However, Topić’s worrying wingspan measurement of 6’5 at the combine shows that he’ll likely never be a positive defender, and until he adds some weight, won't be able to stick with wings either.

His strengths still far outweigh those weaknesses, so there's a good chance that he gets picked a bit higher than 22. A trade up would then be necessary to land him, but that would probably be a deal-breaker for James Jones.

It may already be pushing it to keep that pick in general, so using any other assets to acquire a player that won't even contribute this year is likely out of the question.

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But being out for the season shouldn't stop the Suns from drafting him if he does fall into their lap. They have a multi-year window, not one that closes after next season. Topić could be an impact player for many years after this one.

He's played professionally for several years, so it's a good bet that he'll be ready to contribute as soon as he steps onto the court. The Suns also have several other assets to use this offseason and can afford stashing one away.

Considering that they'll be picking in the 20s for the next few years, they probably won't be in a position to draft a player this talented. That’s something that they can’t pass up.