Aaron Craft: Career At a Glance
Ohio State senior point guard Aaron Craft is one of the most interesting prospects in this years -- very deep -- NBA draft pool. Every scout knows what Craft brought to the table during his four years at Ohio State: intensity, stifling defense, leadership and maturity. Those are traits college coaches love.
Craft has two Big Ten Defensive Player of the year trophies sitting on his shelf. He has been named to the All-Big Ten defensive team every year of his career. He is the Big Ten's all-time steals leader. Buckeyes adore him. College basketball fans outside of Columbus, Ohio loathe him.
Unfortunately, basketball players have to play both sides of the court. Scouts know exactly what Craft doesn't bring to the table: offensive prowess, consistent three-point marksmanship and the ability to run an offense for 30+ minutes a game. His offensive game just never developed during his time in Columbus. His numbers stagnated, he never became a deadeye shooter and he never fully adapted to running an offense.
Craft would be only the third point guard in the past 12 years to get drafted with this low of a usage rate.
Craft is not quick enough to take defenders off the dribble and will only continue such struggles at the next level. Craft has the propensity to drop his head in an attempt to bowl his way to the rim -- as if he were LeBron James instead of a 6-foot-2, 195 pound point guard -- leading to errant shots and turnovers. Craft needs to develop a reliable jump shot if NBA coaches are going to feel comfortable leaving him in the game. His inability to consistently knock down three-point shots allows the defender to go under on nearly every pick-and-roll. Most defenders will willingly dare Craft to shoot, which he often seems disinclined to do.
For all of his offensive struggles, Craft is so adept as a defender that it nearly cancels out. Despite his average measurables Craft has exceptional lateral quickness, nimble hands and a non-stop motor. He has guarded NBA-caliber point guard prospects throughout his four years in college with great success. There are reports of Craft more than holding his own in a head-to-head with Kyrie Irving -- aka "Uncle Drew," street ball wizard extraordinaire -- at the Nike Skills Academy this past summer.
The NBA is flooded with talented point guards right now. For coaches, stopping those guards is at a premium. Craft can provide just that for any team willing to take a flier on him.
Aaron Craft will either be a very late second round draft pick or watch the draft pass by without hearing his name called. However, I would be shocked if he did not a get a look on an NBA Summer League team as an undrafted free agent.
Craft is the kind of player coaches love to have in practice; a willing motivator and intense defender. He does not take plays off and would willingly work his way up from a 12th man position if need be.
I expect Craft to spend his offseason working on his jump shot and improving his pick-and-roll prowess. He may spend some time overseas, but scouts will be keeping a close eye on his progress simply because of his exemplary collegiate career.
Craft's career ended on somewhat of a sour note in the NCAA Tournament, watching the ball -- and his career -- slip right out of his hands. He is an NBA long shot, but a shot is all he needs. I don't expect a kid with this much pride to let this be the last we remember of him as a player.
Et tu, ball?