In a bit of a surprise, Goga Bitadze is headed to the Indiana Pacers after being taken with the 18th pick in the NBA draft.
The good news is the Indiana Pacers took one of the best players available in Goga Bitadze. The other news is Indiana now has three centers on their roster worthy of playing time.
So before we worry about who might get traded, let’s learn a little about Goga, shall we?
Well, the name of one of the teams he played on is awesome: KK Mega Bemax. Secondly, he is already a meme after he was ignored at the draft’s media day for Zion Williamson. He is regarded as one of the drafts best international players, as he hails from the Republic of Georgia.
As far as basketball goes, he can screen the crap out of opponents and pass the ball well, which seems like needed abilities if the Pacers plan on using him for pick and rolls. His 3-point shooting isn’t there yet as it was 31.3% in the EuroLeague this season, but the mechanics are there.
Defensively, the basketball IQ is clear in the way he covers his opponents on and off the ball. His 2.3 blocks a game aren’t bad, either. And if you aren’t a fan of Myles Turner’s lack of rebounding, Goga excels at that as well.
There’s a soft touch in his game with both passing and catching, which bodes well for his future as a spot up shooter, especially if he develops his range. He made his début in a Serbian league at the age of 16 before moving on to Mega Bemax, with produced Nikola Jokić, Ivica Zubac, and others.
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He was loaned to another team before making his presence known in his return to Bemax.
Last season, he was loaned to Budućnost, one of the top Euroleague teams. He averaged 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while earning the league’s Rising Star honor.
However, he is unpolished and isn’t the fastest defender on the floor. He is definitely a center, not a power forward or anything else unless he somehow gets quicker, which is highly unlikely.He isn’t a strong finisher despite his size but isn’t afraid to play physically. The results, however, don’t match his acceptance of rough and tumble play. He will need to add bulk as he gets older.
No player this deep in the draft is perfect, but Indiana took a player who already has the tools to get minutes in the NBA. He was projected by some experts as a late-lottery pick, so the Pacers got a little lucky if he turns out to be as good as some see him to be.
He wasn’t on our radar considering the current roster, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good pick.
Ultimately, Bitadze is a value pick. The talent is there and there is potential if he puts it all together. He is only 19 years old and isn’t anywhere near what should be the apex of his basketball abilities. While the pick likely means Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis is gone, is was a smart pick.