Did the Pacers make the right choice taking Goga Bitadze with the 18th pick?

(Photo by Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers surprised many by taking Goga Bitadze at 18, but the team was surprised the Georgian center with there for them to take.

If the phones in the Indiana Pacers draft room are any indication, they made the right choice by taking Goga Bitadze with the 18th pick in the NBA draft. According to President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard, the phones started ringing once their pick was announced by Adam Silver.

In a story on Pacers.com, Pritchard said it was “It was the easiest decision he ever made in the draft” and that in a rarity, the scouts, consultants, Larry Bird, and Donnie Walsh were all in agreement.

And of course, the phones confirmed their assessment.

"You know how we know it’s a good pick?” Pritchard asked on Friday, when Bitadze was introduced at a press conference in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.“The phone rings the second you pick him. I’ve never had it ringing like I had it yesterday. Maybe some of the ex-teams I’ve been with were pretty hotly in pursuit. Not a little bit, but hotly in pursuit. I’ve never seen it like that.”"

That’s all well and good, but I think it is fair to say the Pacers are a bit biased on this subject. For a more neutral arbitrator, let’s look at what are the media and the NBA world’s various experts saying about the pick.

CBS Sports’ Kyle Boone called Bitadze an “offensive assassin” and noted the value Indiana got with their pick despite not being in the lotto. He gave Indiana a B+. Gary Parrish gave it an A.

Jonathan Tjarks of the Ringer gave Indiana a B for the pick, but like many of us, wonders what’s next for the Pacers as a team.

Fansided’s Brandon Jefferson has it a B as well, noting it makes plenty of sense for Indiana in an evolving Eastern Conference while allowing them to keep their cap room, something they couldn’t have done if they traded it for a more experienced player.

Chris Stone of the Sporting News pointed out the value of the pick but noted that wings like Nassir Little and Kevin Porter were still on the board for Indiana and would have addressed their positional needs.

Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo said Bitadze was a shrewd choice and should be an immediate contributor even if the center position wasn’t a need for the Pacers.

That is the general vibe that those who saw him play have. Maybe it wasn’t the right pick as far as position goes, but Indiana couldn’t have gotten any better as far as the value of the pick.

Picking 18th is deep enough in the draft that getting anything out of the selection is a win. You hope to get Joe Dumars, a hall of famer, but you’d be pretty happy with a  J.R. Smith or Marco Belinelli. You just hope the player you take isn’t washed out of the league before their second contract.

Bitadze should have been taken before 18th, but the draft doesn’t always work out how you’d expect. Indiana didn’t need a center, but if Goga is as good as Pritchard and others expect him to be, then there’s no way the Pacers could have said no to Bitadze at that point.

There’s no sure thing in the draft, but Goga Bitadze sounds like a modest steal for the Pacers at 18. That sounds like they made the right pick if you ask me.

Next. Breaking down what Goga Bitadze brings to the Pacers. dark

Little or Porter may end up as contributors in the NBA, too, but as far as prospects are concerned, Bitadze is the better one. Years down the road we’ll find out who ended up with the best picks, but it’s hard to say Indiana made the wrong pick on Thursday night.