Photo Courtesy: Kelly Roderick/ The Latern
Ohio State’s Aaron Craft doesn’t look like the current prototypical NBA point guard in the likes of a Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, Kyrie Irving or Russell Westbrook. But, what he does have should make him one of the first point guards-EMPHASIS ON POINT GUARD-selected on June, 26, 2014 at the NBA Draft.
As I sit here watching him lead this Buckeye team against Marquette, devoid of a “College Star”, I see even more evidence to support my premise. First, he almost messed around and got a triple double; 10 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds and 2 steals while leading the Scarlet and Gray to a 52-35 victory.
Off the court Craft has great character, highly intelligent (2011-2013 Academic All-American) and a leader in the Ohio State community. On the court he has a high basketball IQ, competes tenaciously, fierce on defense with quick hands and feet, plays within himself and again, is a great leader. He makes clutch shots, even though many scouts have said shooting is his biggest weakness at this point in his career. He struggles to consistently hit the 15 foot to 3 point jump shot, but that is a skill that can be thought.
All these are reasons all 30 NBA teams should be looking to add him to their roster. Sure, most teams will be maneuvering to select Kansas Freshman Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kentucky’s Julius Randle or Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. Those are the guys touted as once in a generation franchise players you can build around for the next 10 years and put fans in seats while the team struggles.
Craft is the kind of player teams looking to win NOW should draft. Think about a team like the Indiana Pacers who were a point guard away from beating the eventual Champion Miami Heat to go to the 2013 NBA Finals. It was turnovers and poor shot selection that led to their playoff exit. Those are areas in which Craft excels at. You already have playmakers on your team in Super Star on the rise Paul George, Former All Stars David West and Danny Granger. Craft is a perfect fit to not get in their way while doing what he does best.
How about the L.A. Clippers? Since trading away backup point guard Eric Bledsoe—to the Suns to acquire more shooters to go around Chris Paul—their second unit has struggled early in the 2013-2014 season. Craft would be the perfect compliment to Paul on the second unit to steady the troops and make sure a scorer like Jamaal Crawford gets quality shots to build upon leads.
Or what about the Memphis Grizzles behind former Buckeye and emerging all star in Mike Conley Junior. Craft would play a keep role in helping them climb back to the top of the western conference ranks after coming very close to a NBA Finals appearance last season.
Playing in the Big Ten, Craft is used to defending NBA caliber point guards, like Utah Jazz’s Trey Burke.
What I’m getting at is, if you want to win now, Craft should be your choice. Especially if you’re selecting in the middle to late parts of the first round. Teams in this position are generally a key role player away from winning it all. Aaron Craft may not sell many jerseys in your arena team shop—unless it’s in Value City Arena—but he will help you hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Owners and GMs need to decide what’s more important. You’re on the clock.