Observing Goga Bitadze
October 14, 2017
By Alan Lu
Mega Bemax’s 6-11, 1999-born center Goga Bitadze from the Republic of Georgia has played very well early this season in the Adriatic League. While his teammate Kostja Mushidi has been out due to an undisclosed injury (presumed to be a stress fracture), Bitadze has picked up the slack with his ability to score, rebound, and block shots.
With thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d., I was able to see Goga Bitadze and his team play against Crvena Zvezda in a match that was played on October 4th. In this game, Bitadze showed some interesting scoring skills, and he can rebound and block shots when he is in the paint, though his average athleticism and below average playmaking skills could potentially be a hindrance at the next level.
Bitadze really excels at scoring as a roll man on offense. He possesses a good motor as he will consistently roll hard to the hoop, and he can throw down emphatic dunks after getting the ball on the move. Plus, he also possesses good touch on his shot, as he can make a floater and other tough shots afterwards.
He also possesses a decent ability to knock down mid-range jump shots. Bitadze can frequently get open on pick and pop plays, and he can calmly knock those down when he has time to get his shot off. He may not always make them consistently, but his ability to make jumpers on pick and pop plays as well as score around the basket on rolls to the rim can make him tough to guard after he sets screens for his team, but he didn’t really do a good job of scoring in the post, however. Bitadze sometimes didn’t get deep position, and he did not always display great touch after looking to score on the block. He does possess fairly good footwork, though he would tend to take tough shots, as he would miss turnaround jumpers, as well as a reverse layup, but he did manage to make a floater after using a quick spin move from the post to get a score late in the game.
While Bitadze is active at looking to finish plays around the basket, he does not always play under control nor does he have much lift on his shot, which can lead to misses. He had a couple of shots blocked in traffic, and he also missed a few tip-ins. But he did score on one tip in after crashing the offensive glass, as he showed a good motor to get the bucket that time.
However, he appeared to display below average playmaking skills. He did make one good pass though, as he managed to pass the ball back to an open shooter on a dribble hand off once and set an on-ball screen to help his teammate score during the middle of the game, but Bitadze doesn’t look to pass often, and there was one play where he should have made the pass to an open shooter, but opted to try to drive in traffic, as he later missed the shot. He also tended to be inaccurate when he threw passes, which would lead to turnovers.
He also possesses a fairly good ability to rebound the basketball. Bitadze is active at hauling in boards on both ends of the floor, and he can get numerous boards in his area. However, he does not possess great athletic gifts, as he can have trouble to get rebounds in traffic or if they are just outside his reach, especially if he is matched up against more athletic players around him.
Plus, he may possess fairly average defensive skills. Bitadze is at his best when he is defending in the post, as he will position himself in spots where he can swat numerous shots around the basket. He has very good length and timing, and he excelled at blocking shots within the structure of his team’s defense, which appeared to be a mixture of both man and zone defense. He also will look to contest shots to force misses, and he also has the size, strength, and footwork to get numerous stops when defending the post.
However, he tends to struggle more when he is forced to defend out on the perimeter. He will tend to hang back too far on switches when defending screens, as this can lead to his opponents to knock down jumpers. He tends to rotate too slowly, and he also can struggle to guard his opponents on the move, as he allowed Lessort to throw down an emphatic dunk off of a roll later in this game due to being unable to get back to him in time after initially hedging on a screen.
Bitadze also tends to struggle to defend opponents on drives to the hoop. He does not possess great lateral quickness as he can get beat by quicker opponents, and he may not rotate quickly in time, which can lead him to commit fouls or allow scores. Other times, he may be called for touch fouls in the post, though those calls appeared to be questionable at best.
Right now, Goga Bitadze may be a second round prospect for the 2018 NBA Draft. He has played very well early on this season, but his average at best athleticism combined with possessing below average playmaking skills may put a ceiling on what type of player he can end up becoming in the NBA. But his offensive skills combined with his ability to block shots in the paint could make him an effective role player in the association if he continues to play well over time.