Sam Presti provides harsh reality check on Thunder drafting Nikola Topic

Though the OKC Thunder selected Nikola Topic 12 overall in the NBA Draft, GM Sam Presti isn't guaranteeing he'll end up seeing the floor during the 2024-25 campaign.
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BASKETBALL-EUROLEAGUE-FENERBAHCE-CRVENA-ZVEZDA / ALTAN GOCHER/GettyImages
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Heading into the 2024 NBA Draft, it was widely understood that the OKC Thunder could use for a young big man prospect to help bolster their size up in the frontcourt and improve upon their 27-ranked rebounding efforts from this past campaign.

Instead of addressing this need, however, the front office decided to go in a completely different direction with their lottery pick, as they opted to snatch up Serbian-born baller Nikola Topic with the 12 overall selection.

As far as first reactions to the decision are concerned, selecting the top-flight point guard prospect at the prime young age of 18 could have certainly been seen as a cause for excitement, especially considering the franchise just offloaded a recent lottery-selected talent in Josh Giddey who, in many ways, sported a very similar game to that of Topic.

However, during the time since the selection was made, more and more information has started to surface regarding Sam Presti's plan for how he intends to have the youngster utilized within coach Mark Daigneault's scheme and, per the GM himself, it seems unlikely that the incoming rookie will see any in-game action during the 2024-25 campaign.

Nikola Topic unlikely to see action with Thunder during rookie season

During his post-draft media availability, Presti fielded questions regarding the guard's timetable to return from his current partially torn ACL that was sustained while his team, Crvena Zvezda, squared off against Partizan Belgrade in a finals game this past May.

Though many may have presumed he would wind up being cleared to participate at some point during the coming season, the top front office exec provided a harsh reality check on the plausibility of such a happening.

"Myself and Donnie Strack, our Director of Medical...traveled out to visit Nikola. He examined him in person. I was able to spend some time with him. We had a group of scouts that interviewed him... and now we're going to sit down and kind of determine the plan of action for the injury. We're going into that extremely optimistic with what it is that we've seen and where I think we'll be able to get to but our expectation is that he probably won't be playing for us next season. Our experience with Chet and the time we used with him during his first year was certainly a factor into the way we thought about this opportunity and I think we learned some things in that instance. "

Sam Presti

Though Presti would continue on to note that while their experience with Holmgren is a "totally different situation" to what they are slated to go through with Topic, he stated "our ability to look at that as an opportunity probably allowed us to give us some confidence to allow us to make the decision that we did."

With this reality looming, the Thunder could be eligible to apply for a disabled player exception for the coming season, which would create roughly $5 million in exception spending power.