Breaking news report changes equation for Spurs draft process

ESPN reports that lottery draft prospect Nikola Topic has a partially torn ACL. What does it mean for the San Antonio Spurs strategy on draft night?
Strength and agility testing at the NBA Draft Combine
Strength and agility testing at the NBA Draft Combine / Anadolu/GettyImages

One of the worst things that can happen to a player is to experience an injury right before a significant transition. Major injuries that occur right before a draft, trade, or contract extension have the potential to torpedo one's trajectory in more ways than one. For draft prospects, it can be the difference between a major payday as a lottery pick or a moderate contract as a late-round selection. In this case, the circumstances should remove this prospect from the San Antonio Spurs draft board.

The Spurs shouldn't take a swing on Nikola Topic

Topic initially injured his knee in January. He was sidelined for four months before returning to the court to play in three games before re-injuring the same knee, and now it's being reported as a partial ACL tear almost a month later. It could simply be a bad year for the 6'6 Serbian point guard, but that's not a risk San Antonio needs to take.

While a talented player, Topic has not been considered the consensus pick as the best at his position in the upcoming draft. He was beginning to slip in several mock drafts before this news was announced.

If recent reports are to be believed expressing the Spurs' desire to accelerate the timeline, drafting an 18-year-old guard currently rehabbing from a partially torn ACL is not the way to go about it. He's already considered an average athlete who may struggle to get by defenders. Compromised lower extremities won't help with that.

There is always a chance he will make a 100% recovery. It is even more likely since he is so young. But the chances of a player tearing his ACL, partial or not, at such a young age doesn't feel like a good sign either.

Topic is not regarded as a strong perimeter shooter, and that's something the team needs. Since most of his time must be spent rehabbing, he won't be able to work on improving his jump shot, further delaying his development and extending the Spurs' rebuild. When considering all of these factors, San Antonio would be wise to stop considering Nikola Topic as a potential first-round selection.