Goga Bitadze – Center – International – 6’11 251 pounds
In a draft that is widely acknowledged to be weak at the top with a lack of serious superstar potential, it’s time for the Euro players with low quality YouTube highlights in half empty multi-purpose gyms to shine. Pair that with the current state of the NBA, where we have European Big Men making an impact all over the league, and you’ll find yourself crushing on Georgian Center Goga Bitadze – a 19 year old who spent this season playing for KK Buducnost in Montenegro.
Bitadze is one of the most divisive prospects of this class, with some having him as a projected top 10 pick whilst others see him as someone they wouldn’t even take in the 1st Round, making him such an interesting player to analyse.
Measurables: Height: 6 Feet 11 Inches Wingspan: 7 feet 2 Inches Weight: 251 Pounds
Statistics: Points per Game: 12.1 – Rebounds per Game: 6.4 – Assists per Game: 1.2
Field Goal Percentage: 55% – 3 Point Percentage: 31% – Free throw Percentage 71%
Strengths: As displayed by his measurables, Bitadze has a great frame and is able to use this to his advantage showing outstanding potential as a rim protector who also has a great awareness of where opposing players are in the paint – meaning he was able to make some impressive recovery blocks as well as use his 7’2 wingspan to make reaching blocks off of quick passes in the post.
His physicality is a consistent positive in his game defensively as is most evident when he is rebounding the ball. He never allows players below his size to get the best of him on defense and is uber competitive when dueling with those who have a size advantage on him. Whilst he does often let his competitive nature get the best of him leading to cheap fouls and too much time complaining calls, many scouts would see this as a good trait that they believe can be easily be refined as he ages and matures.
Offensively, Goga’s shooting splits show great potential for him to develop into a threat from the outside with his shot. His sample size from 3 is very small but after hitting 50 of his 70 free throws last season, on top of his technique and form all being very sound for a 7 footer, scouts will be very encouraged that he will be able to shoot a high level from 3 after a couple years of development. Improvement in this area will only make him more deadly as a screener and widen the layers of his offensive game as he has already shown his ability to score in the pick and roll and the pick and pop from the mid-range.
Weaknesses: Though Bitadze has fairly decent mobility for a player of his size, he does lack the speed to stay with quicker players from the outside – making him a liability at the next level as smart teams would take advantage of that lack of switchablility. As referenced earlier, he is libel to get into foul trouble which would only make him more of a target for the opposition and create difficulty keeping him on the court or playing him in high leverage situations.
As well as this, the competitive, tough nature that we see from him on Defense seems to dissipate when it comes to attacking the basket on offense. He struggles mightily under contact and can also be made to look pretty underwhelming when forced to finish with his left hand or when finishing from the left side of the basket in general.
Bitadze has virtually no handle to speak of and doesn’t have too many qualities with the ball in his hands in any instance – whether that be having to beat someone 1 on 1 in the post or having to create with the ball and pick out a pass.
Personal Projection: 15th-20th Overall Pick.
Would he fit on the Hornets?
Currently looking at the Hornets roster, we have 4 players capable of playing the 5 who would all be expecting to play decent minutes. However, depending on the contract situation of Frank Kaminsky, it’s unlikely that those players will be in any long term plans for the Hornets. If the team was to take Goga Bitadze in the 2019 NBA Draft, he likely would not see a lot of basketball his rookie season, and for a team that, depending on Kemba Walker’s free agency, may not be too competitive next season, taking a young high ceiling prospect and effectively stashing him for a year may not be the worst way to go