Analyzing Goga Bitadze
May 12, 2019
by Alan Lu
I decided to take the time to watch 6-11 center Goga Bitadze from the Republic of Georgia play for Buducnost in an Adriatic League game against Cedevita that was played on April 7th, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d. He was loaned from Mega Bemax to play for Buducnost this year, and Bitadze has put up strong numbers as a result, which in turn has helped make him a first round prospect for this year’s draft. I wanted to see him play in another match to assess his skills once again. Here are my thoughts on how he fared on this day, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.
Goga Bitadze is a smart, skilled big man that has been very productive in international basketball this season. He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also was quite effective as a rebounder and interior defender to help his team get the win. Bitadze did a very good job of scoring on hustle plays. He excelled at scoring on rolls to the rim, as he managed to score on a powerful two-handed dunk once, and he also tended to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line. He also was able to draw free throws off of a put back another time after grabbing an offensive board.
He also showed a good ability to knock down jumpers to space the floor for his team on offense. Bitadze did miss on two spot-up threes early on after getting the ball on pick and pop plays, but he was able to calmly knock down an open three-point shot off the catch in the second quarter. He also utilized a jab step to make a mid-range jumper from the right elbow, and Bitadze showed that he can take advantage of defenders that would give him ample space to shoot the basketball.
Plus, Bitadze also showed an adequate ability to score in the post. He was able to catch an entry pass as he dribbled in and used a pump fake to score off the glass, and he also excelled at drawing plenty of fouls upon his defenders. He also tried to score on a high post drive, but after colliding into a defender that resulted in a no-call, he ended up missing wildly around the basket that time.
However, he may still need to improve his playmaking skills. Bitadze was fairly turnover prone in this game. Sometimes, he had trouble handling or protecting the basketball. On one play he was called for a traveling violation after attempting a flip shot from the post. On another, he also lost the ball after using an overhead ball fake shortly after getting the ball on a roll to the rim another time. For the positives, he would sometimes find the open man to set up scoring chances for them. He also would set screens, as he was able to do so once to help his teammate score on a jump shot once.
He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Bitadze would leap up to collect plenty of boards, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and he also managed to get an impressive one-handed offensive board late in this contest. He also would box out his opponents, and he also tipped a ball to a teammate to help his team get a defensive board. However, he was called for a foul when going for a defensive rebound once as he had locked his arms with an opponent. He also may not always get great lift when he jumps, so he can sometimes allow opponents to get rebounds over him.
Bitadze also played adequate defense in this game. He generally defended well when he was in the paint, as he was able to block an opponent’s put back to force a miss, and he would rotate to contest and alter shots to force misses. He also managed to deflect a pass, and he also rotated to poke a ball away on a switch to nearly force a turnover. On one play when he defended out on the perimeter, he managed to backpedal before contesting the shot off of a drive to force a miss.
However, he tended to struggle more when guarding opponents out on the perimeter. Bitadze is not especially quick or agile, and he often had trouble defending quicker players off the dribble. He would tend to get beat off the dribble on switches after rotating up to defend ball handlers off of screens, which would cause him to allow scores, and he also was called for committing a hard reach-in foul late in this game. He also would sometimes be late on his rotations and give up too much space to his opponents, as he was prone to allowing them to score on mid-range jumpers.
In general, Goga Bitadze is a productive, skilled big man that can help a team in a variety of ways. He is a crafty player that really knows how to play, and he has a good basketball IQ. He can make shots from all over the floor, and he also is a solid rebounder and position defender. He does possess elite physical tools however, and there were times where he was really struggling to guard opponents out on the perimeter.
Still, he has been very productive in international basketball, and he could project well into a backup center role in the NBA. Right now, he may project to be a late first round pick in this year’s draft. He is likely one of the best international prospects in this year’s draft class, and if things pan out for him, he could thrive as a solid role player in the league, as he could end up being like a poor man’s version of Nikola Vucevic in the association.