Team: Budućnost VOLI
Height/Weight: 6’11, 245 lbs.
Goga Bitadze is a very intriguing foreign prospect. We have seen him play in a variety of both amateur and professional settings. He has played in the Adriatic league, KLS, and against top NCAA teams such as Kentucky and Michigan. This gives us integral insight that we would not normally get on an overseas prospect, seeing him play against both European and American styles of basketball.
Goga has been a productive player for his entire professional career at a young age which is an impressive strength on its own, the ability to put up numbers against elite competition shows he at minimum has a likely floor as a bench center.
The most intriguing part of Goga’s offense is his potential as a floor spacer. He has very projectable mechanics, shoots a good amount of mid-range jumpers, on top of an extremely soft touch (more later) and a free throw percentage that currently sits at 68% on 246 attempts in his 2018-2019 season, which has been improved upon every season which shows the dedication he has to perfecting his shot.
Much like his Adriatic league predecessors (Jokic, and Nurkic), Bitadze is a positive passer. He is a quick decision maker, that makes high IQ reads. He has shown the ability to pass off the dribble where he leverages his finishing, and handle to suck defenses in and hit open shooters.
When he was younger, Goga was seen as a post scoring center prospect. He is still a solid post scorer with his blend of touch and new found coordination. However, he is not good enough for it to be a primary source of points in an NBA offense. It is simply adequate enough if he gets to attack a switch, gets a small ball five on him or if the play breaks down in late shot clock situations (although this is likely not the player you want to be scoring for you in those situations.)
Bitadze is an amazing screen setter, no doubt a product of his professional upbringing.
His real value from within the arc comes from his finishing ability. He has a good floater game to offset his lack of athleticism in his pick and roll repertoire. His behemoth strength, coordination, fluidity all come together to allow him to be a positive finisher through contact where he does not shy away but rather embraces contact.
Defensively, Bitadze is a team defending extraordinaire. He rotates extremely well and always puts himself in the position to help without over committing, a skill even NBA veterans have not mastered. Putting himself in the position to help often time deters drives from opposing players due to his imposing size. He consistently rotates to get timely blocks and uses his anticipation to offset his lack of vertical explosion and lets him get blocks despite his low margin for error.
Finally, Bitadze brings a high motor and a competitive streak that gives me great optimism about his future development.
Bitadze’s glaring weakness is his perimeter defense. Although he has become more mobile and fluid due to weight loss and body improvements, he is far from light on his feet and is constantly beaten by perimeter players. In pick and roll coverage he prefers to drop down and gives little to no resistance when guards pull up in the mid range. Goga will undoubtedly struggle in pick and pop situations in the NBA due to him having to contain the ball handler and then later recover to a shooter where he shows little effort to contest perimeter shots.
Bitadze is not an elite athlete by any means which limits him as an elite defensive prospect and gravity roller. He will struggle to adjust to NBA athleticism initially without a doubt.
Goga’s emotions often times get the best of him leading to foul trouble and overall lack of focus on certain plays when things do not go his way.
Goga Bitadze is a high floor, high offensive ceiling prospect worth taking mid first round in this draft. He must continue to work on his body and learn to reign in his emotions and use it for his benefit to optimize his potential. He has strong shooting indicators and I believe he will be a pick and pop target on offense whilst bringing the rim protecting ability on D in a Jusuf Nurkic role.