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  1. #1
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    I think a lot of people on the board are coming around to the idea of drafting Topic. As a Topic truther, I'm going to present a few arguments why Topic should not only be the Spurs' first draft pick, but that they should seriously consider trading assets for him to move up if they lose out on the lottery.

    Let me preface this by saying a lot of this analysis is grounded in stats, so I'm looking towards posters with significantly more experience watching international prospects (looking at you, Bruno) to judge the validity of some of these arguments.

    1. Topic is a big creator. I'm surprised not more has been made of this fact. This is probably the most valuable archetype in all of basketball, even more so than the two way wing. If you're starting a team from scratch would you rather Haliburton or Jayson Tatum? It's probably close to a wash for many people even though Tatum is a far better player. The big creator is a force multiplier that improves all the other guys on your team. For another example of this, look no further than what has happened to the clippers before and after getting Harden.

    2. Big creators paired with elite defensive bigs tend to break the league. Lebron hand picked AD as his running mate when he left for LA for this reason. One is an offensive force multiplier, the other is a defensive force multiplier. Add some cheap 3 and D wings and you've got a reasonably priced contender. It's a more efficient model of team building with current salary cap constraints than building around any other combination. Imagine if you paired Haliburton with AD. OKC is an elite team and will be for the next 10 years because of SGA-Chet. Luka is probably not leaving Dallas anymore if Lively continues his current development. Now the spurs have the single best elite defensive big of the last 30 years. The potential here is off the charts.

    3. Topic's statistical upside comps are elite. His archetype is a big creator with allegedly questionable athleticism, and probably top two upside comps are Luka and SGA. Topic is smaller, shorter, and puts up similar numbers to Luka in a worse league (ABA vs ACB). He's definitely not Luka offensively. SGA is an interesting comp that's commonly been made as a lengthy crafty guy who generates a ton of rim pressure. He's far inferior to SGA defensively, but he's putting up better numbers at a younger age than SGA did as a freshman at Kentucky with clearly better passing instincts. Was SGA facing better defenders at Kentucky than Topic is facing in ABA facing pros? I don't know, but I think it's a reasonable bet that the level of compe ion Topic is facing is at least comparable, if not superior. If your upside comp offensively is SGA with better passing, that is an incredible prospect.

    4. Topic's downside comps are still somewhat useful players. This is a pretty y take, but I think one of his downside comps is Cade Cunningham.
    They are both approximately 6'6" with 7 foot wingspan high usage creators who were looked at as primary initiators on their respective teams.
    Comparing Topic's age 18 season to Cade's age 19 season at OK State:

    Topic: 62% TS, 33.4% AST%, 16% TO%, 121 offensive rating, 110 defensive rating on 25% usage
    Cade: 57% TS, 20.4% AST%, 18.7% TO%, 106 offensive rating, 97 defensive rating on 29% usage

    Cade was a far better 3 point shooter and rebounder, but Topic clearly generates more efficient offense as a primary creator. Cade despite shooting 40% on 6 3 PA attempts still comes in with a lower TS than Topic. Cade was viewed as a can't miss #1 overall draft pick in his draft class (who still remembers Fade for Cade?), and yet projected as an inferior creator. Even now, people are entertaining trading multiple first rounders to Detroit to get Cade, isn't it a better bet to just go ahead and trade those first rounders for Topic on the off chance that he hits his upside comp?

    Another downside comp for Topic is Josh Giddey. Again, both are tall creators with excellent passing instincts. Kiddey coming out was looked as a guy who could pass and not much else. He had a semi broken 3 point shot and really couldn't score at all. For reference:

    Giggidey (age 18): 51% TS, 36% AST%, 23.7% TO%, 103 offensive rating, 109 defensive rating on 19.5% usage, shooting 29% from 3

    Before his recent scandal and subsequent backslide this year, Giddey was averaging 16.6/6 assists on 48/33/73% shooting as a second year player and was genuinely looked at as a promising young player with questionable fit next to SGA. Giddey is 2 inches taller than Topic, but he is a reasonable comp to what happens if Topic's rim pressure does not translate at all (unlikely).

    The third downside comp for Topic is Jeremy Lin. Lin was going up against Ivy league compe ion as a senior in college, but from a stats standpoint had an outlier 2 point percentage of around 60% similar to Topic (65%). Lin was shorter, had less length, and was about 3 years older than Topic putting up similar numbers in the Ivy league.

    Lin (age 21): 62% TS, 31% AST%, 19% TO% on 26% usage

    Lin went undrafted and ended up with a middling career marred by injury but it's inarguable that he far outperformed his expectations. Ivy league comp is trash and there were legitimate concerns about whether his rim pressure would translate and yet Lin if not for injuries still probably has a decent career in the league. The takeaway here is that an elite 2 point percentage when paired with creation ability is generally a positive predictor for league performance.

    What we can gather from all of this is that big guys and guys who can generate rim pressure tend to succeed in the league when they show creation upside. Topic's upside comps are elite and even his downside comps are reasonably useful players.

    5. Defense can be improved. I think the two primary criticisms I see about Topic are regarding his jump shot and his defense. He has a positive shooting signal given his FT% has consistently been above 80%. Regarding his defense, this is a significant concern. He dies on screens and gets burned often. However, my counterargument to this is twofold - 1) as a primary creator, we can somewhat forgive his offensive limitations especially with Wembanyama behind him and 2) young guys often get better on defense. As a tall guy with length, he has far more potential to at least reach the level of a middling defender compared to smaller guys. How many times have we also seen poor defenders turn into acceptable ones in the past? Devin booker, Steph curry, Jamal Murray to name a few. , Trae Young used to be the poster boy for unacceptably bad defense and this year has has turned in a league average defensive EPM. In my opinion this is not a good reason to knock a young prospect, especially one who is responsible for so much on the offensive end.

    6. He fits team needs. Based on the first 30 games, what we've seen is that Sochan is being played out of position, Wemby doesn't get easy shots, and Vassell forces things too much because he's asked to create difficult offense on his own. Even if you don't think the rim pressure translates, the shooting ever comes, and the defense still sucks, at the very least you are getting a capable big point guard with vision who can pass. That solves most of your roster problems instantly, even though it might take 2-3 years for him to get used to the NBA game. If his rim pressure translates even somewhat, it addresses the Spurs' most glaring roster need

    7. He fits the spurs culturally. This is the worst reason by far to take him, but it's still not nothing. Topic is the son of a professional basketball player who played on a yugoslavian national team and his demeanor on court is what you want out of your point guard. He doesn't whine to the refs and he keeps playing when things are down. That's generally a positive predictor for a guy who can be coached and developed by the spurs staff.

    So ultimately, the question is where he goes in the draft. I think it would be an epic mistake if the spurs ended taking anybody in front of this guy with their own first rounder. The better question is if the spurs end up something like 4th, whether they should be trading assets to move up to 1st or 2nd to take him. Me personally, I would offer up their 2024 first, Toronto's pick, and possibly either Atlanta's 2025 unprotected or their own 2025 unprotected to move up for him. #1 overall picks are usually not for sale but I think in this particular draft it might be because of its perceived weakness. The spurs have a chance to draft the second part of their long term duo and set up their franchise for the next 15 years. I think if you can get it done, you do everything you can to get him this draft.

    Always happy to read counterarguments esp from more experienced posters.

    Thanks for reading, merry christmas!
    Last edited by SpursBills; 12-25-2023 at 03:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Veteran exstatic's Avatar
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    I missed on SengŁn, the second elite 18 YO Euro after Doncic. Not missing on this kid. He’s the goods, and I’d guess our tanking target.

  3. #3
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    I don't think Topic even if he is a great PG fixes the team's problems, as they desperately need competent defenders also, with Wemby and Vassell the only ones on the roster. I wouldn't be opposed to drafting a SF instead if they think they can land say Quickley in the summer to play point. If they draft Topic or another guard I really hope they made a hard push for Anunoby in the summer, because neither Keldon Johnson nor Jeremy Sochan are starting material. Only high end pick I really don't want is Sarr, as I don't see the fit at all and he isn't putting up particularly impressive numbers.

  4. #4
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    Spurs definitely can't afford another up like Primo or Sochan again

  5. #5
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    I don't think Topic even if he is a great PG fixes the team's problems, as they desperately need competent defenders also, with Wemby and Vassell the only ones on the roster. I wouldn't be opposed to drafting a SF instead if they think they can land say Quickley in the summer to play point. If they draft Topic or another guard I really hope they made a hard push for Anunoby in the summer, because neither Keldon Johnson nor Jeremy Sochan are starting material. Only high end pick I really don't want is Sarr, as I don't see the fit at all and he isn't putting up particularly impressive numbers.
    I absolutely agree that drafting Topic doesn't solve all of the team's problems and absolutely none of the team's defensive issues. However, he does solve many if not most of the offensive problems plaguing this team if he hits.

    From a team-building standpoint, I think having an elite creator paired with a middling wing trumps a middling creator with an elite wing. Additionally, while I think Topic has a chance to become an elite creator, I don't see anyone in this draft with the potential to be an elite wing.

  6. #6
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    I absolutely agree that drafting Topic doesn't solve all of the team's problems and absolutely none of the team's defensive issues. However, he does solve many if not most of the offensive problems plaguing this team if he hits.

    From a team-building standpoint, I think having an elite creator paired with a middling wing trumps a middling creator with an elite wing. Additionally, while I think Topic has a chance to become an elite creator, I don't see anyone in this draft with the potential to be an elite wing.
    There's a limit to what I'd pay to move up re: future picks, but I am getting more comfortable with Topic being the guy. I'm not concerned about the Defensive issues in conjunction with drafting him. I see it as Wemby and Topic in a SL and the other 3 guys may not even be on the roster right now. Devin might remain and then again he may be moved in the right deal.

  7. #7
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    Additionally, passable 3 and D wings are cheap relatively speaking - look at the Lakers with Vanderbilt and Reddish, nuggets with KCP and bruce brown, Wolves with McDaniels, nets with Dorian Finney-Smith, etc. As long as your primary offensive guy and primary defensive guy are in place, you can fill in everything else. But your two cornerstones have to be in place first and that should be your first priority.

    Long term, the salary cap and second apron are only going to allow for 2 super max slots, so the most efficient use of those salary slots is on two guys that are force multipliers. It makes sense for one to be on the offensive end, and one to be on the defensive end.

  8. #8
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    just want someone to partner up with wemby and click and for them to
    grow together and dominate the future

  9. #9
    Starter off the bench Uriel's Avatar
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    Incredible post OP. Hope to see more of you in this forum.

    If things go right, a Wembanyama-Topic pairing could indeed dominate the league for the next decade.

  10. #10
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    Usually when I see a sub 100 poster release a novel on here, itís a terrible read defending a terrible take. This was neither of those, thank you OP. I am not familiar enough with his game to contribute to this thread, but Iím certainly gonna start looking at draft prospects now, since we are looking at a possibly historically awful Spurs team the rest of the way.

    For what itís worth, tankathon have the Spurs taking Topic at #7 with the Toronto pick

  11. #11
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    I don't think Topic even if he is a great PG fixes the team's problems, as they desperately need competent defenders also, with Wemby and Vassell the only ones on the roster. I wouldn't be opposed to drafting a SF instead if they think they can land say Quickley in the summer to play point. If they draft Topic or another guard I really hope they made a hard push for Anunoby in the summer, because neither Keldon Johnson nor Jeremy Sochan are starting material. Only high end pick I really don't want is Sarr, as I don't see the fit at all and he isn't putting up particularly impressive numbers.
    Gonna take exception to the notion that Vassell is a competent defender. He was drafted as such, but hasn't shown much since his rookie season IMO.

  12. #12
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    Great post, more or less spot on.

    Looking at the other scrub teams, Wizards and Utah are the only teams that could go for Topic.
    Cade is the only thing Pistons have going for them, Blazers just got Scoot, Hornets obviously have Lamelo, Grizzlies won't stay near the bottom for long and they have Ja and others are way too good to be ahead of the Spurs in the lottery unless they get extremely lucky. Toronto is a danger if they blow it up.

    Can't see the Wizards going for Euro playmaker with questionable shooting and bad defense, leaving Jazz as the only compe ion, imo.
    Spurs have more than enough assets to get anyone they desire, so if they really think Topic is the guy, then trading up won't be an issue.
    But as long as we don't get a worse pick than Utah, we should be good to go.


    I haven't seen any full games, but from the highlights I watched he seems to be the perfect fit next to Wemby, as already pointed out.
    If he's the real deal and actually becomes the playmaker that was promised, then we'd just need a couple of 3-D wings to get out of the damn lottery already.

  13. #13
    Member of Wembyland CorrectCrusader's Avatar
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    I am not worried about point guard defense at all. Victor is going to be the all time greatest defender ever simply from his wingspan and height. Get him an offensive juggernaut of a point guard and surround those two with above average roleplayer wings and we win championships.

  14. #14
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    I am not worried about point guard defense at all. Victor is going to be the all time greatest defender ever simply from his wingspan and height. Get him an offensive juggernaut of a point guard and surround those two with above average roleplayer wings and we win championships.
    damnit....what offensive juggernaut can we get realistically tho

  15. #15
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    He reminds me of a bigger version (though I'm skeptical of the reported 7-foot wingspan) of Dragic. If he can approximate his career and Wembanyama can come close to living up to the hype, that's definitely a combination with "break the league" potential.

    I don't think Topic even if he is a great PG fixes the team's problems, as they desperately need competent defenders also, with Wemby and Vassell the only ones on the roster. I wouldn't be opposed to drafting a SF instead if they think they can land say Quickley in the summer to play point. If they draft Topic or another guard I really hope they made a hard push for Anunoby in the summer, because neither Keldon Johnson nor Jeremy Sochan are starting material. Only high end pick I really don't want is Sarr, as I don't see the fit at all and he isn't putting up particularly impressive numbers.
    They should do both: Select Topic if available or pursuing him by adding quality draft equity, as well as pursue Quickley (multiple reports have come out recently about the Knicks willingness to consider an in season trade).

    The latter buys the former time to start/close if needed and they're ideal theoretical fits, as the former has primary creator potential and the size to defend off ball wings, while the latter can be the point of attack guard defender and secondary creator/floor spacer.

    Looking at the other scrub teams, Wizards and Utah are the only teams that could go for Topic.


    Bulls and Craptors also loom as possibilities.

  16. #16
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    Gonna take exception to the notion that Vassell is a competent defender. He was drafted as such, but hasn't shown much since his rookie season IMO.
    Vassell's defensive field goal percentage allowed is pretty solid, top 40% of so of the league. Might not be a great defender but at least he's not a guy who seems to really hurt the team defensively the way Sochan and especially Johnson and Collins do. Last I checked Vassell's DFG numbers are pretty close to Anunoby's for example.

  17. #17
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    Pop would put him at center.

  18. #18
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    Good stuff OP.

    I agree Topic is likely the target right now with our First Pick, but I think we'd need the 1st or 2nd overall pick to land him, as he likely ends up going top-2 in this weak draft class, and that seems unlikely at this point. That's why I've been doing more due diligence on Collier and Cunningham, simply because I think the Spurs are actually going to end up falling in the lottery for the first time in franchise history, as we're still the only team to never do so, and it just feels like we're overdue. Topic will be long gone imo, though I'd love to be wrong.

    On a side note: it's annoying that all 3 PG's currently projected to go in the Lottery (Topic, Collier, and Dillingham) are all poor defenders. This team desperately needs guys who can play Defense at a high level, regardless of position. We'll need to fill out the rest of the roster with capable defenders. And, as OP mentioned, Defense can always be improved, so hopefully whichever one we draft does so, although Topic and Dillingham will likely never be great defenders due to lack of physical abilities.

  19. #19
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    Good stuff OP.

    I agree Topic is likely the target right now with our First Pick, but I think we'd need the 1st or 2nd overall pick to land him, as he likely ends up going top-2 in this weak draft class, and that seems unlikely at this point. That's why I've been doing more due diligence on Collier and Cunningham, simply because I think the Spurs are actually going to end up falling in the lottery for the first time in franchise history, as we're still the only team to never do so, and it just feels like we're overdue. Topic will be long gone imo, though I'd love to be wrong.

    On a side note: it's annoying that all 3 PG's currently projected to go in the Lottery (Topic, Collier, and Dillingham) are all poor defenders. This team desperately needs guys who can play Defense at a high level, regardless of position. We'll need to fill out the rest of the roster with capable defenders. And, as OP mentioned, Defense can always be improved, so hopefully whichever one we draft does so, although Topic and Dillingham will likely never be great defenders due to lack of physical abilities.
    This is ultimately the most interesting question. I am also counting on the Spurs to finish around 4-5 this year, and Topic is probably going first overall. Knowing that this may be the last chance for the spurs to get a truly blue chip prospect in the draft, are you willing to trade up to get him and if so what are you willing to trade to get him? My personal offer if necessary is 2024 pick, Raptors pick, and Hawks unprotected 2025 pick which I think is more than a fair price to move from 4 to 1 when compared to what the Mavs offered to move up from 5 to 3.

  20. #20
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    ^ Let me save you the time: Cunningham isn't getting traded anytime soon and Collier and Dillingham are "too black" for the Spurs narrow minded, precious "culture".

    Based on current projections, with their natural pick I'm confident they'll focus on: Topic, Risacher, Buzelis, Williams.

  21. #21
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    This is ultimately the most interesting question. I am also counting on the Spurs to finish around 4-5 this year, and Topic is probably going first overall. Knowing that this may be the last chance for the spurs to get a truly blue chip prospect in the draft, are you willing to trade up to get him and if so what are you willing to trade to get him? My personal offer if necessary is 2024 pick, Raptors pick, and Hawks unprotected 2025 pick which I think is more than a fair price to move from 4 to 1 when compared to what the Mavs offered to move up from 5 to 3.
    good post overall spursbills

    the only thing i don’t agree is that topic will be the first pick

    im pretty sure the top 5 of this draft can change every month going to the draft.

  22. #22
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    I don't necessarily think Topic is going #1. Charlotte, Portland, Washington, San Antonio, and Detroit are competing for that pick. Us and Washington are the main threats to take Topic. I don't see any of the other 3 taking him unless they are ready to give up on their young guys at the position.

  23. #23
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    ^ Let me save you the time: Cunningham isn't getting traded anytime soon and Collier and Dillingham are "too black" for the Spurs narrow minded, precious "culture".

    Based on current projections, with their natural pick I'm confident they'll focus on: Topic, Risacher, Buzelis, Williams.
    They have to pretend they love Cunningham but if Detroit can get pick #1 I could definitely see them draft Topic and shop Cunningham to the Spurs or Wizards if it can get them a pick to land Sarr.

  24. #24
    Take the fcking keys away baseline bum's Avatar
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    I don't necessarily think Topic is going #1. Charlotte, Portland, Washington, San Antonio, and Detroit are competing for that pick. Us and Washington are the main threats to take Topic. I don't see any of the other 3 taking him unless they are ready to give up on their young guys at the position.
    Hope so but I think the Pistons would be happy to move on from Cunningham to take another swing in the draft. He's 3 years in and still very unimpressive. If the Spurs want Topic I think they're going to have to hope neither Detroit, Washington, Utah, nor Toronto gets the #1 pick and then if the Spurs don't get #1 trade up with Portland or Charlotte if they get #1.

  25. #25
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    Hope so but I think the Pistons would be happy to move on from Cunningham to take another swing in the draft. He's 3 years in and still very unimpressive. If the Spurs want Topic I think they're going to have to hope neither Detroit, Washington, Utah, nor Toronto gets the #1 pick and then if the Spurs don't get #1 trade up with Portland or Charlotte if they get #1.
    This all depends on whether Troy Weaver is a smart GM or a dumb GM. If he's a smart GM, he recognizes that Cade is best either off ball or getting unloaded altogether and ends up drafting Topic and turns the franchise around. If he's a dumb GM, you convince him that the Pistons are terrible not because of Cade, but because they don't have enough defense and spacing on the wings surrounding Cade so you trade him the Spurs and Raptors picks so he can take Risacher and Ja'Kobe Walter who provide exactly that. Obviously I'm hoping he's a dumb GM but I can't be sure yet.

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