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Why do we love Goga Bitadze so much?

Credit: Matt Kryger/IndyStar

A frenzy has begun since the early months of 2019: Zion Williamson. His every slam dunk, his block so his every move had become a popular material. It was the first time a player had taken down all of the draft class since LeBron James. So Why am I talking about Zion Williamson in the Goga Bitadze article?

As we see in the photo above, Goga Bitadze is sitting all alone while all the reporters show interest in Zion Williamson. But just like Bruce Wayne building something in his own cave (alone) and becoming Batman, gaining Gotham’s love; Goga Bitadze will be intrigued by his performance in his rookie season.

While Zion Williamson’s social media phenomenons in January 2019 were growing rapidly, Goga Bitadze,  “I knew it was a really tough league because I have watched it all my life, since I was a kid. But now, playing against these guys, they are athletic, and it is a more physical game when I compare it to the Adriatic League. There is more contact and I like it more because you can play more free and you can play faster. That’s just my impression. I am proud to play in the EuroLeague. I also had a chance for the last two years to be at the EuroLeague Final Fours, watching games. The Final Four is a crazy thing, the craziest atmosphere I have ever seen, and just once I want to play in the Final Four. That is one of my dreams.’’

Yep, maybe Goga failed to realise his F4 dream but he was selected 18th in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers.  Maybe you were saying this: Why was Goga Bitadze chosen when there were important tallies like Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis? Don’t worry, that question might disappear after reading this article, where we combine his game style with some of the Pacers ‘ stats from the 18/19 season.

Profile:

Position: Center

Height: 6’11”

Weight: 250 lbs

Wingspan: 7’2”

Euroleague Rising Star Award for the 2018-19 season

18/19 Euroleague Stats

GP: 13

PPG: 12.1

RPG: 6.4

APG: 1.2

SPG: 0.5

BPG: 2.19

2FG: %59.7 (46/77)

3FG: %31.3 (5/16)

FT: %71.4 (50/70)

TS: %66.1

Roll Man Put Back Cut Post Up
%POS: 29.1 %POS: 11.4 %POS: 14.2 %POS: 18.8
PTS/POS: 1.24 PTS/POS: 1.26 PTS/POS: 1.30 PTS/POS: 0.77
  • The Indiana Pacers were the 28th teams that scored from the NBA’s Center players last season with 13.9 points per game
  • The Indiana Pacers were the 29th teams that scored from the NBA’s Center players last season with 8.0 rebounds per game
  • The Indiana Pacers were the 25th teams that scored from the NBA’s Center players last season with 2.1 asissts per game
  • The Indiana Pacers were the NBA 24th in that field with 43.0 rebounds per game.
  • The Indiana Pacers were the NBA 20th in that field with 4.9 blocks per game.

There’s been a lot of statistical information, but let’s keep that in mind and look the new star of the Indiana Pacers.

Goga Bitadze is a master at pick&roll Games. He uses his physique, which is evenly distributed across every section, with great screenings. During P&R he always has the interest of the opposing defense when he rolls inside. He doesn’t have a great shot percentage but the middle distance creates and the space  opens sets him apart from the traditional tall ones. Unlike traditional bigs that drive in the lane to score up close, Georgian big man creates baskets for himself with floaters and similar-type moves farther away from the rim.

He is not the first choice to shoot when top in Pick&pop games. Instead, wing is able to ball movement into the area or penetrate and pass outside. Probably an above average ball handler for a center, but not much above that.  While Goga’s passing ability is not very good, the threat posed by his physique is impressive. Because you don’t want to leave him one-on-one in the painted area. Fundamental, IQ, technical… So he has everything for a elit pivot.

Victor Oladipo’s screenings can actually save a lot of space. Oladipo&Goga, the side pick&rolls played by like the duo of Draymond Green&Steph Curry at the Golden State Warriors, can effectively do so at the Indiana Pacers.

Goga Bitadze broke the record for the best player efficiency rating (PER) for a teenager in the Euroleague. Luka Doncic was the previous holder of this record. Given Dallas Mavericks ‘ young star’s performance in his rookie year and the impact it has generated, there could be a low but effective situation for Goga in several stages.

As well as the threat in the painted area, mid-range shots are not bad. But it’s outside the characteristics of the scorer; his intelligence in pass delivery, his instinct to grab rebounds, his incredible block threat, his space-sharing in defence is very, very important.

Of course, Goga Bitadze’s defense against fast guards after the switch is very difficult to do. His lack of a three-point threat on offense could drop the team’s space.

I watched Goga Bitadze play some matches in Istanbul. I even had the chance to talk to him a few times. He’s got incredible character, really. He cares about every person. He has a very calm and harmonious structure when he is on the bench. He always listens to his coach. On the court, his engine is generally active, consistent with his teammates. He is very cheerful before the match but is completely focused on winning during the match.

Finally: Goga Bitadze, we love you very much…

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