Analyzing Aleksandar Lazic and Goga Bitadze

May 6, 2018

by Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch two prospects from Mega Bemax play in the Adriatic League, 6-8, 1996-born combo forward Aleksandar Lazic, and 6-11, 1999-born center Goga Bitadze, as both are currently eligible to be selected by NBA teams in the upcoming draft.  Of the two, Lazic is automatically in while Bitadze declared as an early-entry candidate, and both could be potential second round picks. 

As I have scouted Bitadze more extensively, I decided to use this as an opportunity to get a longer look at Lazic’s skills to get a better feel for his game.  I was able to see them play in a January 30th game against MZT Skopje Aerodrom with thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d.  Here are my thoughts on how they fared, as well as how their skills may translate to the NBA.

6-8 forward, Aleksandar Lazic showed off an interesting set of skills, as he would score on energy plays, and he also was active as a rebounder and defender when he was on the court.  Lazic really excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He will actively crash the offensive glass as he can score on put backs, and Lazic also managed to throw down an emphatic jam off of a backdoor cut.  Plus, he ran the floor to draw free throws after getting the ball on the break, and he also scored on a left-handed jump hook after a teammate picked off a pass off the inbounds.

But Lazic was unable to knock down the lone three-point attempt he hoisted up after rolling to the wing to catch the ball for a spot-up three from beyond the arc.  He also did not often look to score when he was further away from the basket, as he seldom would look to create his own shot on offense.  He also displayed good playmaking skills.  Lazic is an unselfish player that can throw accurate interior passes, and he will make the extra pass to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  But sometimes the passes he throws can be too soft, which can allow opponents to get their hands on it to deflect them.  Another time, Lazic held the ball for too long while waiting to find someone to pass the ball due to indecisiveness, though fortunately for him, that did not lead him to commit a turnover.

Also, he showed off adequate rebounding skills.  Lazic would leap up to get offensive boards due to possessing a good blend of having the athleticism, motor, and instincts to do so, and he would often score on put backs to help his team.  Lazic also managed to leap up to get a defensive board on one occasion.  However, he can sometimes get pushed easily off the block, as he will likely need to add strength.  On one play, he ended up getting outmuscled by an opponent when battling for a defensive rebound, which led him to be out of position and having to foul an opponent on a put back attempt.

He also played fairly good defense.  Lazic will actively fight through screens, as he did so once to successfully challenge a three-point shot, and he also rotated to alter a shot on a cut to force a miss around the basket.  Another time, he managed to deflect a pass out of bounds to almost force a turnover.  On the other hand, sometimes he may not make proper rotations, which can lead his team to allow scores.  On one play, he fought too high over the top of a screen as he trailed both the ball handler and roll men, which helped lead his team to allow a dunk off of a roll.  Another time, he didn’t pick a man to guard as he bounced around aimlessly, as it caused his teammates to scramble, and it led to his team to give up a three-point basket.

In general, Aleksandar Lazic played fairly well in his team’s win over MZT Skopje Aerodrom.  He is an athletic, combo forward that can make energetic plays on both ends of the floor, but he will need to improve his ability to make and create his own shots on offense.  Most noticeably, he will have to work on his outside shot to improve his chances to help a team space the floor at the NBA level.  In a favorable scenario, he could perhaps end up being a defensive specialist in the NBA, as he could be a potential second round pick in this year’s draft.

6-11 center, Goga Bitadze showed off versatile scoring skills as he made a variety of shots on offense, and he is a skilled big man that can help his team in numerous ways.  Bitadze showed a good ability to score in the post.  He has very good strength, and he can consistently back his man down on the block to get scores and free throws around the basket.  He managed to do so to score on a left handed jump hook, and he also can use drop step moves and leaners to draw shooting fouls upon the opposition.

He also did a good job of scoring on hustle plays. Bitadze is a mobile big man that can score on rolls to the rim, and he was able to throw down a quick dunk on one play.  He also will run the floor, as he managed to draw free throws on the break another time.  But sometimes, he may not always find his shooting touch, as he caught a ball on a roll to post up another time, but missed once on a quick jump hook.

He also can stretch the floor, as he managed to knock down an open three-point off the catch in this game.  Bitadze has struggled with his three-point shot this year, but if he can consistently knock down threes, that could open the floor for him on the offensive end at the next level.  Plus, he also exhibited good playmaking skills.  Bitadze is an unselfish player that will move the basketball, and he passes the ball well out of the post to help set up scoring opportunities for his teammates.  He also will set good on-ball screens to help his teammates get open to set up scores for them, though sometimes it looked as if he got away with setting moving screens on occasion.

Also, he was able to get his fair share of boards when he was on the floor.  Bitadze was able to haul in plenty of defensive boards, and he also leapt up to get an offensive rebound once.  But sometimes, opponents would outjump him to get boards, as Bitadze may not possess great leaping ability, and he did not always time balls well when they would come off the rim.  Another time, there was one play where a ball went off his hands to go out of bounds, as he was unable to corral an offensive board once early on in this match.  On a separate play, he went up wildly to rotate on a drive in an attempt to block a shot, but that led him to be unable to block out his man on a miss, as his team ended up allowing a put back score.

In addition, Bitadze showed off adequate defensive skills.  Early on, he managed to tip an entry pass to a teammate to help his team get a steal due to possessing good hands and instincts that time.  He also would actively contest shots when defending in the post to force misses.  In addition, he also would look to contest jumpers to help his team get stops on the defensive end.  But sometimes, he can be out of position defensively, and other times, he may struggle to defend opponents on screens.  Bitadze was called for committing a foul in the post early on.  Other times, he may hedge too far when defending screens, as that can lead his team to allow scores on rolls to the rim.  Another time, he sagged too far off his man as he gave his man too much space, which led his opponent to knock down a three-point shot.

In summary, Goga Bitadze is a skilled big man that could be a likely second round pick if he stays in the 2018 NBA Draft.  He can make shots from all over the floor, and he could project to be an above average rebounder and defender in the NBA if he continues to make strides as an overall player.  He may possess similar skills to current Golden State Warriors’ center, Zaza Pachulia, as Bitadze could end up being a serviceable role player in the association.

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