Pacers Rookie Goga Bitadze Will Make Preseason Debut vs. Timberwolves
The Indiana Pacers have played their three preseason games without Goga Bitadze but that will change on Tuesday. While the amount of minutes remains to be seen, he will make his preseason debut on Tuesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to Mark Montieth of Pacers.com.
“Barring an unexpected setback, Pacers’ first-round draft pick Goga Bitadze will make his debut Tuesday when Minnesota comes to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for their final preseason game.”
It has been a difficult summer for Bitadze when it comes to getting experience before the start of the regular season. It started with an issue with his visa preventing him from playing in the Las Vegas Summer League. Then he suffered a sprained right ankle that caused him to miss the Pacers’ first three preseason games.
The inability for Bitadze to get on the court for the Pacers during games has caused him to fall miss out on developmental opportunities. Pacers head coach Nate McMillan told J. Michael of the IndyStar that Bitadze is ‘so far behind’ given that he hasn’t had those experiences.
“He’s so far behind,” McMillan said. “He hasn’t played an NBA game yet.”
While Bitadze has shown flashes of potential during practices, McMillan believes that the rookie will need to become accustomed to the speed and strength of the players at the NBA level.
“The speed of the players, the strength of the players, all of that is so different than what they are accustomed to,” he said. “Even though he’s been able to play against our guys for the last couple months in pickup games, it’s going to be different out there against a different opponent. Jeff Teague is playing. He hasn’t really seen that type of speed.”
It will likely take some time for Bitadze to get acclimated to the NBA level. It doesn’t help that he will be playing alongside a largely inexperienced bench group. Regardless, he is slotted at the backup center role for the Pacers and they will need him to provide a positive impact.