Meet Pacers Round 1 Draft Pick: Goga Bitadze

Meet Pacers Round 1 Draft Pick: Goga Bitadze

Blog > Kevin's Corner > Pacers Coverage > Meet Pacers Round 1 Draft Pick: Goga Bitadze

Meet Pacers Round 1 Draft Pick: Goga Bitadze

On Thursday night, the Indiana Pacers selected center Goga Bitadze from the country of Georgia with the No. 18 pick in Round One. What are the Pacers getting in Bitadze?

Tim Warner | Getty Images


INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Pritchard probably won’t like reading his Twitter mentions on Thursday night.

 

Despite drafting a player at No. 18 overall that the vast majority of draft pundits had going in the top-15, the Pacers fan base overwhelmingly did not like the selection of center Goga Bitadze (6-11, 245), who hails from the country of Georgia.

 

How shocked were the Pacres about their own selection?

 

Nate McMillan hadn’t even scouted Bitadze coming into Thursday night because the Pacers thought the Georgian center would go in the lottery.

 

Here are 3 thoughts on the Pacers drafting Bitadze:

 

1. Who Is Goga?

 

Bitadze, who will turn 20 years old in July, is a true center who averaged 12.1 points per game and 6.4 rebounds in 24.2 minutes while playing in the EuroLeague last year (the top league in Europe).

 

The early scouting report on Bitadze is a skilled big man who can stretch the floor. He shot nearly 40 percent from 3 last season.

 

There are questions about Bitadze’s passing, being a consistent threat to stretch the floor in the NBA and some concerns over his perimeter defense when having to switch in pick and roll situations.

 

But he did block 2.3 shots per game in the EuroLeague and is a physically ready center to play NBA minutes in his rookie season, which is not something you say about many international prospects.

 

“He can step in and play right away,” Nate McMillan said of Bitadze on Thursday night. “He is not a project.”

 

2. International Choice

 

We are used to the Pacers going down the college route with their first-round selections.

 

Dipping into the overseas pool does allow for a higher ceiling type of talent than some of the ‘meh’ college choices Indiana has had as of late, in a similar Round One range.

 

Bitadze did play in the most competitive leagues of Europe so there shouldn’t be a massive hurdle to the NBA, like you often get with overseas players.

 

In 2018-19, Bitadze became the first center in 13 years to win the Euro League Rising Star award.

 

Pacers scouts do see some Domantas Sabonis level skill in Bitadze.

 

3. What About Turner, Sabonis?

 

This is by far the biggest question with this pick.

 

In today’s NBA, what team needs three centers on their roster, who were all top-20 picks and all under the age of 23?

 

That’s a logjam for a position that’s becoming a bit outdated, to a degree.

 

“We have 3 bigs that can play and will play,” Nate McMillan said on Thursday night.

 

With this pick, doesn’t a trade have to be coming down the road for Sabonis or Turner?

 

Or will the Pacers ride this out and be content with having a crowded frontcourt of invested resources, even though the league is trending towards a much smaller look?

 

Will Indiana be the contrarian in the league and try to rely on a major frontcourt emphasis to build a contender?

 

If the Pacers can move one of their young bigs for an impact type wing or point guard, this would certainly change the opinion from many fans after hearing Bitadze’s name called at No. 18 overall.

 

QUOTE TO NOTE:

 

Nate McMillan on Bitadze: “Goga was a guy we had going in the lottery. When we saw we had an opportunity to possibly see him fall to us, everybody is just going crazy back there. You get a 7-footer, who is skillful, can shoot the three. He handles the ball. He’s a good passer. Defensively, he defends the basket and blocks shots. He’s a 2-way player and is a guy who has been playing in a good league professionally.”

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