The Mavs did not have a first round pick but when Goga Bitadze was selected by the Indiana Pacers at 18, I celebrated like he was going to my team. Here’s why.
While I was pulling for Goga to be drafted by Charlotte I LOVE that he’s going to a playoff team. Not just a playoff team but a team with a young core that he can grow with over the next few years. I think he is a big unlike any that they already have and instantly adds versatility to their lineups. It’s also a team that is not going need him to do a ton early so he can be brought in slowly if necessary.
For the record, the Pacers front office said that as soon as they picked him their phones blew up with teams trying to trade for him and they have never experienced that before. The league knows.
Goga Bitadze, 19 (20 on July 20th) C. KK Mega Bemax/Budocnost
Key Measurements: 7’0″ 258, 7’2″ wingspan
Key stats: 13.9 pts, 6.3 rbs, 1.9 blks
Shooting: 40% from 3. 68% FT
What to expect from him
Offense: This could be a very long paragraph so I’ll try to watch it. Goga is an incredibly skilled scorer. You can see above that he shot 40% from 3 this year but I have to mention that he shot just 21% from 3 last season. He put in a ton of work to make that shot more consistent and he maintained that average all year. His form on his jumper was already good so he just needed the reps. He has a quick release and there is no wasted motion in the shot.
He can also attack a defense off the bounce. He has great touch inside and this includes a floater that he can go to if he can’t get all the way to the rim. He is very patient with the ball on the block and uses some quick moves to get his shot off. He can finish with both hands inside and has a nice jump hook.
Goga is also great in the pick and roll. He usually drops to a nice spot in the middle of the floor where he can be a threat to either pop back out or dive to the rim after the pick. His game is mostly below the rim but he will go up strong in space to make sure you know he has it.
Defense: Defensively he is usually in good position in the post. He’s not going upstairs to block anybody but he holds his position down low with his arms straight up. The stronger players in the league may give him some problems here though.
On the perimeter, he moves his feet decently but gives up space so he doesn’t get blown by so he’ll concede the jumper.
His shot blocking is opportunistic. He will not allow weak attempts at the basket near him but usually he wants to use verticality. He also doesn’t want to give up the foul so he avoids bringing his body in for the block when he goes for it.
Other: Goga is also a solid passer. He doesn’t have amazing assist numbers so it’s not going to be noticeable there but he knows when to kick the ball out from the post and is also capable of big-to-big passes from the perimeter. Additionally, he is good with the ball in his hands and capable of pushing the ball up the floor on the break. Something not all centers can do.
Flaws/Areas for Improvement
I know it doesn’t sound like there are many but the most important thing for him will be to improve his body. He has the mass but he still looks like he has some baby fat on him so he’ll need to turn that into muscle to truly reach his potential and fix some of his weaker spots.
With a few veteran big men ahead of him I expect that Goga will start the season coming off the bench. I think he will score immediately but that he may have some issues with fouls early as he adjusts to the speed and physicality of the game. By the mid-year point I expect that front court rotation to be a problem in the East.
Long term, Goga has All-Star potential. I didn’t put him 3rd on my board for shock value. I believe he’s that good.