The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...
2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Goga Bitadze
Age: 19 (turns 20 in July)
Max vertical: N/A
2018/19 stats: 12.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.5 spg, 2.3 bpg, 54.8 FG% (3.9/7.2), 31.3 3PT% (0.4/1.2), 71.4 FT% (in Euroleague)
Player comparison: Nikola Vucevic, Robin Lopez
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 10th, NBADraft.net 17th, Bleacher Report 20th, Sports Illustrated 10th, Ringer 19th
5 things to know:
*Bitadze is one of the best international players in this year's class, up there with Sekou Doumbouya. Bitadze is a skilled big man from the country of Georgia. He is projected to have a relatively high upside on both ends of the floor with the ability to score and block shots.
*He played in the Euroleague last season, which is the second-best basketball league in the world. That gives him a bit more certainty than Doumbouya, who was in a second tier league in France. Usually, the Euroleague is a decent predictor for NBA prospects. Luka Doncic, for example, dominated the Euroleague and then found instant success in the NBA.
*Bitadze's 2.3 blocks per game average in the Euroleague is a very good sign. Though the NBA requires more athleticism to play around and above the rim, blocked shots aren't as common in the Euroleague. The only other guy to average at least two blocks per game since 2007-08 is Ekpe Udoh. Bitadze's 2.3 per game represented a major outlier.
*He is considered a very good screen-setter and passer. Bitadze could thrive as a pick-and-roll centerpiece at the next level. Some, though, wonder how he will handle pick-and-rolls on the defensive end. He will have to make up for a lack of quickness with anticipation and his length.
*At this point, Bitadze does not have a reliable outside shot. He is smooth off the dribble and in the post with the ability to score in a variety of ways in the lane and on the baseline. But his range is limited and developing a respectable perimeter shot would go a long way in helping him reach his potential.
Fit with Wizards: Bitadze is not a perfect fit for the Wizards at this point. If they see him as the best player available with star potential, then it would make sense. But from a need perspective, there are several things not to like.
For one, he's more of a traditional center and the Wizards have been trying to get away from that. Secondly, they already have a logjam at the position and will to a greater degree if they re-sign Thomas Bryant.
The one way Bitadze could make sense for the Wizards, though, is if they believe he can be a top rim protector. It just seems like other guys who could be available at nine offer more of a guarantee. If the Wizards really want rim protection, they could go with someone like Jaxson Hayes instead.
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