WTF Do We Do With: Goga Bitadze
I think it’s time we take a deep dive into Goga Bitadze.
If you’re a loyal reader, which I expect all of you are, you know that I briefly touched on the Pacers big man a few weeks ago in one of my pick up columns. Back then, I was only speculating at what he could be *if* he got some playing time. Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis didn’t get traded, but they did get hurt, opening the door for him to shine.
Yes, he’s been on a tear recently meaning in most deep leagues he’s already rostered. BUT he did get mildly injured after I wrote out most of this, which is just awesome, causing him to be dropped a lot. So take a look before assuming he’s already rostered. Thus, this post has will have two purposes. First, if he’s available I’m going to convince you to add him. Second, if you already have him on your team I’m going give you an idea of just how valuable of an asset he is.
Let’s start with where he came from.
Europe. He came from Europe.
Georgia to be more precise, where he started playing professionally at at 15. And by the time he was 20, he was racking up MVP trophies in the Serbian Super League and the Adriatic League. Are these accolades as impressive as Luka Doncic’s run before he joined the NBA? No, but winning multiple league MVPs before your 21st birthday is impressive no matter what level you’re at. And Goga did it in one of the top European leagues.
While many people don’t appreciate big men, I do. Does it stem from being forced to play center all my life despite being rail thin and much better suited for a wing role, but had to learn the intricacies anyway and developed into a pretty good low post defender and, despite all that, never getting any recognition from coaches of my sacrifice for the team? Probably, but as my friends will tell you I have been clamoring FOR YEARS that a 5 big man lineup was the key to stopping the Warriors “Lineup of Death.” And I’m happy the Cavaliers are showing it works!
Yes – I am available for hire for any and all assistant GM jobs.
Also, yes I do go to therapy, why do you ask?
Moving on, Goga Bitadze has exception feel around the rim and is a terrific screen-and-roll big. He’s got great touch and timing in the paint that help you envision a 20 point-per-game big. On top of that he’s got a 3-point shot that will keep teams honest, and is a terror protecting the rim.
Goga Bitadze executes the pick-and-pop perfectly 👀pic.twitter.com/WcluJ9OPSq
— Pacers Nation (@PacersNationCP) January 21, 2022
He does need to improve his passing, and I know every European is assumed to be a savant level passer, but not everyone comes out of the gate a fully-formed star. Even Nikola Jokic took some time to get going.
Since entering in the rotation on January 17th, he’s been getting some big minutes and putting up some good numbers. 13 points, almost 7 boards and 2 assists in 22 minutes per game are fantastic building blocks. If you picked him up to rid the hot hand, you’re loving life right now. But you may have seen that Pacers star Domantas Sabonis is back in action and put up monster lines recently. Flat out Sabonis returning isn’t great news for Goga Bitadze’s production, but never fear we’re in this for the long haul.
Since being drafted 18th overall back in 2019 Goga hasn’t really done much. He’s played about 10 minutes a game, and it’s hard to put up numbers that pop in that small of a window. His career high scoring average is 5.1 ppg, which he did last year. BUT if you want to have your mind blown, scroll down to his per-36 numbers. Is a walking double-double with 2+ assists and blocks a game good? I think that’s pretty good. So our guy can put up the stats, but will he ever get the opportunity?
As I mentioned in my earlier post, the Pacers are finally (maybe) considering a rebuild. Getting the 7th seed is great and all, but at some point you need to realize if you’re not first, you’re last. And Goga Bitadze seems to be a key part of that rebuild. He got into a verbal altercation with an assistant coach, got fined and everything kept moving. If the team doesn’t value you as a big piece, fighting with your coach while on the court probably isn’t getting swept under the rug. Even when Sabonis comes back, Goga has played well enough to force his way into the rotation. And his high level of play may help the Pacers feel better about shipping out on of Sabonis or Myles Turner.
The point is he’s already able to score and defend the rim and a pretty high level and he’s only 22. Right now he’s a good player, and can be very useful to your fantasy teams, but with some extended run we could be looking at someone about to make a jump like Domantas Sabonis did just a few years ago. If you’ve already got him, you have a pretty valuable asset on your hands but just remember to be patient. If you don’t have him, but want to now is the time to try and scoop him up. If he’s on the wire great, but if you’re in the market to maybe rebuild his price should be relatively cheap compared to what he could become. You may find managers eager to flip a late first-round pick from 3 years ago who rarely played and now shines when his whole team is injured thinking this is just a flash in the pan.
But because I’ve got your back, you know you’re about to make a killing if everything breaks right.