If you’re looking for an NBA draft prospect you can identify with, meet Goga Bitadze.
A 6-foot-11 center from the country of Georgia, he became an Internet sensation Wednesday when a sad photo of his pre-draft media availability was widely shared. As Zion Williamson, the expected No. 1 pick Thursday night by the New Orleans Pelicans, drew the kind of attention an expected No. 1 pick draws, Bitadze sat in adjacent podium, casting a look that was part wistful and part boredom.
NBA draft prospect Gogo Bitazde got slotted next to @Zionwilliamson at @NBA draft media day.
Unfortunately he’s a bit overshadowed.
Gogo actually a guy I’ve heard @PelicansNBA have interest in. pic.twitter.com/mHq5g3SPxg
— Fletcher Mackel (@FletcherWDSU) June 19, 2019 Bitadze had all the right answers when he realized his unwitting participation in a photo to remember.
“It just makes me more hungry and humble to see this guy [Williamson] get a lot of focus,” he told Eurohoops as he rode through the streets of New York. “I know he’s a great player, he’s probably the top player but that doesn’t bother me at all. I had people come and ask me questions so it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s all good and I’m really excited about this process.”
A 245-pound EuroLeague center, the 19-year-old Bitadze may well hear his name called early Thursday night. In its latest mock draft, SI.com has him going to the Boston Celtics with the 14th pick; Yahoo and CBS predict he’ll be the 18th pick by the Indiana Pacers. The mock-draft consensus is that he’ll be a mid-round pick.
The Post’s Matthew Giles rates him 20th among its top 50 prospects. “[He] has all the tools the NBA covets — a burgeoning offensive game in which he currently does all the little things (executing dribble-handoffs) correctly, while consistently working on refining the big things (a perimeter game and lateral defensive quickness),” Giles wrote.
→ Shot blocking
Goga Bitadze explains what he can bring to the Hawks. #HawksDraft2019 | #TrueToAtlanta
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) June 17, 2019 CBS’s Gary Parrish praised his “motor,” a popular word whenever a draft in any sport rolls around. “Franchises now prefer skilled floor-spacing bigs who can comfortably step away from the basket and make shots like Bitadze. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for with a motor that runs well. His addition would give the Pacers coaching staff some interesting options in the frontcourt.”
If the media swarm indicated a lack of respect, it’s one that isn’t shared by NBA players past and present.
Draymond Green, who knows how it feels to be passed over in the draft, wrote on Slam’s Instagram page : “He should frame this pic… look at it every day and grind!” Dwyane Wade added, “Use it as fuel.” Zaza Pachulia wrote: “It’s not how you start, it’s about how you finish it. Prove them wrong.” And Bam Adebayo noted: “That’s Motivation.”
Sign up for our weekly NBA newsletter to get the best basketball coverage in your inbox
Read more from The Post:
Zion Williamson, Ja Morant emerge as franchise faces for Pelicans, Grizzlies
Perspective: The Wizards’ lack of a GM is getting curiouser and curiouser
NBA draft 2019: Mike Conley Jr. trade shakes up the league and everything you need to know
Cindy Boren Cindy Boren arrived at The Post in 2000 as an assignment editor in charge of baseball and NFL/Redskins coverage. She switched to full-time writing, focusing on national sports stories and issues, when she founded The Early Lead blog in 2010. Follow
Please enter a valid email address.
You’re all set!
We sent this offer to [email protected]
Subscriber sign in We noticed you’re blocking ads! Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker. Or purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on. Try 1 month for $1 Unblock ads Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us
LINK ORIGINAL: Washington Post