Thoughts on Goga Bitadze, Adam Mokoka, and Kostja Mushidi

October 7, 2018

By Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch a basketball game that was played between Mega Bemax and BC Igokea on October 1st, as this featured several prospects such as Goga Bitadze, Adam Mokoka, and Kostja Mushidi.  I was able to see this game with thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d.  Among the players that I saw in this match, Bitadze put on an impressive performance, as he scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds, and in this contest he showed off versatile offensive skills as well as solid shot blocking skills.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared on this day.

6-11 center, Goga Bitadze from the Republic of Georgia played very well as he had a solid all-around game to help lead his team to a narrow victory over Igokea.  He showed off a solid ability to shoot the basketball, as he excelled at making open spot-up threes off the catch, and he even faded back out to the wing to knock one down midway through this contest.

Bitadze also has good low post scoring skills.  He is a strong, physical center that can back his man down far in the paint, and he can score on drop step moves and jump hooks in traffic, and he also managed to throw down a powerful dunk once after catching a high pass over a defender.  Plus, he is an energetic player that will score on tip-ins, in transition, as well as off of rolls to the rim, but sometimes, he will rush his shots, which can lead to misses.

He also showed off fairly decent playmaking skills.  Bitadze has good court vision, and he excelled at finding cutters to notch assists for his team.  On one play, he initially rolled to the hoop before getting the ball midway, and he then threw a nifty, no-look bounce pass to a cutter to set up a score.  He also is an unselfish player that will tend to find the open man, and he will set plenty of screens.  However, he also committed plenty of turnovers, as he can be prone to throwing inaccurate passes, and he also can sometimes be careless on offense.

Plus, he also showed off excellent rebounding skills.  Bitadze frequently leapt up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he even managed to tip a ball to himself once.  He also was able to push the ball up the court on one possession to show off some ball handling skills.  Also, Bitadze played adequate defense in this game.  He showed off strong shot blocking skills, as he would run in to help defend an open low post player to swat shots from the weakside, and he also managed to hustle back to make a chase down block on a drive in transition another time.  Though Bitadze lacks elite athleticism, he is a very instinctive player that has good length and short area quickness to make solid defensive plays in the paint.  He also managed to poke a ball away when defending the high post to almost get a steal, and he will actively contest shots to force misses. 

However, sometimes he would get beat off the dribble, which would sometimes cause his team to be thrown off their rotation scheme, and this would sometimes lead to scores.  He also would give up too much space to shooters, and he also would commit fouls on occasion due to over-aggressiveness.  In general, Goga Bitadze is a smart, skilled basketball player that could excel at making plays on both ends of the floor at the next level.  He may possess only average physical tools, but he has a high basketball IQ combined with a solid skill set that could allow him to contribute right away for an NBA team.  He could project to be a good role player in the NBA, and he could go in the late first to the second round range if he decides to enter the 2019 draft.

6-4 guard, Adam Mokoka is a very athletic combo guard that seemed to show some intriguing skills, even if his play was erratic in this contest.  He is an athletic slasher that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he also is a good defender that has some shut down potential on the defensive end.  He will still need to learn how to play under control and be a more consistent performer in games, but he looked to be an interesting prospect in this game.

He showed off an adequate ability to score off the dribble.  Mokoka has a good first step as he can get to the hoop using either hand, and he will aggressively attack the hoop to get scores and free throws for his team.  On one play, he used a pump fake before driving hard to his right to score on a runner.  But sometimes, he can drive in too recklessly as he may not play under control, which can lead him to questionable shots and misses around the basket.  He also exhibited decent shooting skills.  Late in this game, Mokoka managed to run out quickly to the top of the key to catch the ball, and he was able to make a quick, open spot-up three.  But he also can be inconsistent at making jump shots, as he also missed a couple of open threes off the catch earlier.

Plus, he also showed off decent playmaking skills.  Mokoka is an unselfish player that does a good job of driving to the hoop to draw in defenders, and he can use nifty dribble moves and passes to find open teammates to set up scores on the break.  Mokoka possesses fairly good court vision, and he can get the ball to his teammates in a variety of ways.   However, he was also quite turnover prone, as he struggled to protect the basketball, as he was prone to losing the handle in traffic, and he also threw a couple of inaccurate, off-target passes.  Mokoka also really excelled at rebounding the basketball.  He would frequently leap up to get boards as he was active at crashing the glass, and he also would tend to push the ball up the floor off of defensive rebounds.

He also played fairly good defense.  Mokoka did a great job of poking balls away from his opponents to help his team get steals due to possessing good hands and instincts, and he also managed to catch an errant pass that a teammate deflected to him.  He also would deflect and tip passes as he was active in the passing lanes, and he also would crowd shooters to make it difficult for them to get space to shoot, as he did so once to force a miss from beyond the arc. 

In summary, Adam Mokoka is an enticing prospect that may have considerable upside as a player for the NBA, as he is an athletic slasher that can make plays with the ball in his hands, and he is also a promising defender.  However, he will still need to play under control more and be a more consistent shooter in games.  Right now, he may be in the second round range, but if he plays well this year, he could perhaps end up being a first round pick in 2019 due to his skill set and upside as an overall prospect.

For 6-5 guard Kostja Mushidi, his performance was a mixed bag.  He showed off a fairly good ability to shoot the basketball, but he took some questionable shots, played too recklessly at times, and he struggled to consistently defend well when he was on the floor.  But his ability to knock down jumpers could keep his stock afloat as a second round prospect.

Mushidi generally excelled at knocking down outside shots to space the floor for his team.  He can make pull-up threes off the dribble, as he has a pump fake and a nifty step back move that he can use to create separation between himself and his defender, and he also can make spot-up threes off the catch.  He also ran off of a screen, and dribbled in to make a tough, contested long pull-up two just inside the arc, but he also can be streaky with his shots, as he tends to make and miss field goals in bunches.  He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble as well as to make shots in transition.  He was able to run the floor to score in transition.  But sometimes, he would look to shy away from contact, as he would at times take bad angles to shoot the ball around the hoop, which led to some misses.

Plus, he also showed off decent playmaking skills.  Mushidi can be a facilitator when he plays patiently, as he will sometimes probe the defenses, and he can find the open man to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He also can throw solid interior passes as he can make good reads on occasion.  However, he also can be quite turnover prone.  He generally struggled to handle the ball in traffic, and he also can tend to make mental mistakes at times, as he would sometimes play too fast and out of control.  In this game, he committed a couple of traveling violations when he would look to make plays off the dribble.  He also dropped a slightly inaccurate pass after going up for a lob, and he also committed an offensive foul due to pushing an opponent down when trying to move off the ball.  Also, he managed to chip in to get a few defensive boards, and he would tend to bring the ball up when he would haul in rebounds for his team.

However, he only showed off just average at best defensive skills.  Mushidi does have the physical tools to excel on defense, but he really seemed to struggle as a position defender.  For the positives, he would use his length to contest three-point shots to force some misses, and he also held his ground when defending the post to force an opponent to miss a tough, off-balanced fadeaway jumper.

On the downside, Mushidi had trouble staying in front of his man when defending opponents off the dribble, as he does not possess elite lateral quickness, and because he would get beat, this would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores, and the rotation scheme would be thrown out of whack, which would also lead to basically similar results.  Other times, he would commit fouls when defending in the paint or out on the perimeter, as he would tend to put his hands on his opponents too much.

Right now, Kostja Mushidi may be a second round prospect, but his upside may not be as high as initially thought.  At best, he could project to be a 3 and D type of player in the NBA, but he will need to cut down on the number of mental mistakes committed on both ends of the floor, and he will need to be a more consistent shooter and position defender in games.  If he can work hard to improve upon his weaknesses, he could perhaps end up being an effective role player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Mega Bemax’s 6-7, 1997-born point forward Luka Asceric from Austria showed off some skills on both ends of the floor, but he seemed to fade in the background as the game wore on.  Asceric is a skilled playmaker that can comfortably run the point.  He is a good facilitator that passes and handles the ball fairly well, and he possesses good court vision, as he can get the ball to his teammates in a variety of ways.  He will also tend to push the ball up the floor off of defensive rebounds, and he can throw accurate passes off the dribble.  However, he lacks the explosiveness to get all the way to the rim, and he can struggle to handle heavy ball pressure, as he was called for an offensive foul by clearing out with his arm when trying to bring the ball up the floor late in the game.

He also possesses a decent ability to make jump shots.  Asceric was able to make a pull-up three after dribbling around for quite a while, but sometimes he may hastily take shots, which can lead to some misses.  On one play, he even had a three-point shot blocked by a defender.  Also, he ran off of a curl cut to receive the basketball, and Asceric managed to draw free throws after driving to the rim from the high post.  However, his low post scoring skills will need significant improvement, as he missed badly after attempting a jump hook right after backing his man down on the block.

He also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball.  Asceric was active at crashing the glass due to possessing decent mobility and a good motor, and he would tend to push the ball up the floor after getting defensive rebounds.  Plus, he also displayed adequate defensive skills.  Asceric is an active help defender that possesses adequate mobility and a good motor, and he was able to get back on defense to make a nice chase down block on an opponent in transition by swatting the shot off the glass.  He also managed to block a three-point shot to a teammate.  Asceric also will jump on loose balls to help his team get steals, and he will also rotate to contest shots to force some misses.

However, he will need to improve his ability to guard opponents on the ball.  Asceric struggled to defend opponents off the dribble and in the post, and he would tend to get beat off the dribble, as this would sometimes throw the rotation schemes off.  Right now, Luka Asceric is a skilled, two-way player that plays pretty good team basketball, but it is uncertain if he does anything well enough to make an NBA team’s roster at the next level.  He is a pretty good role player in the Adriatic League, but his lack of elite physical tools or assertiveness on offense may suggest that his upside could be fairly limited at the NBA level.  If he does find his way into the NBA, he could perhaps end up being like a poor man’s Garrett Temple in the association.

Other Notes, Part II:

Mega Bemax’s 6-7, 1999-born swingman Andrija Marjanovic did a good job of making spot-up threes, and he showed a good ability to make passes off the dribble to set up fast break scores, and he also rebounded the ball well.  However, he struggled with his position defense as he struggled to guard opponents on the ball, and he also had trouble making shots around the basket due to playing too wildly at times.  If he can continue to progress as an overall player, he could perhaps end up being a second round, draft and stash pick someday as he is an above average athlete that can shoot and facilitate the basketball.

6-3, 1998-born point guard Ognjen Carapic shot the ball well as he can make threes both off the catch and dribble, and he also showed off some good playmaking skills.  He is a sneaky fast player that possesses good court vision, and he can find teammates on the break to set up scores for them.   However, he lacks elite lateral mobility to guard upper echelon players, and he tended to get beat off the dribble in this game.  If he can continue to improve his overall game, he could perhaps be a candidate to end up being a backup point guard in the NBA.

Anyways, hope you enjoyed my analysis on how the prospects fared in this game and how their games could project into the NBA, and thank you for reading.

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