Mar 20, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft (4) fights for the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second half of a men

Pistons NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Ohio State’s Aaron Craft


There is an enigma about Ohio State’s Aaron Craft that goes beyond what any scout could ever find on his highlight tape. Some might call him a throwback to the golden days of basketball. The ultimate team player that is willing to sacrifice his body for the good of the game.

Others deem him a student of the game — always anticipating the next move on the court while attacking it before anyone else can analyze it.

Four four years, Buckeye fans have loved his tenacity and character that he brings to the Arena every night.  Opposing fans on the other hand cannot stand him — they won’t give him the credit he’s due.

When it comes down to it, Aaron Craft is the pesky player that will never beat you with his god given skills. Just when you think you have an edge on him though, he’s taken the better angle. When you’re tired, his motor is just getting warmed up.

Dec 21, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft (4) dribbles against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the second half of the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Buckeyes won the game 64-61. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The only three time Academic All-American in Ohio State history will outwork you, out smart you and then leave you wondering how in the heck he beat you.

The two time B1G Defensive Player of the Year spent four years terrorizing opposing offensives.

Ohio State’s all-time assists leader also knows he can play a role offensively at the next level. And he has a plan to make things work in the NBA.

Player Profile

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight: 192

Position: PG

Wingspan: 6′ 2″

School: Ohio State

Hometown: Findlay, Ohio

Career Stats

Season G FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT% TRB AST STL TOV PTS
2010-11 37 83 180 .461 57 111 .514 26 69 .377 .727 107 177 73 79 256
2011-12 39 115 230 .500 92 166 .554 23 64 .359 .713 126 181 98 84 345
2012-13 37 129 309 .417 102 219 .466 27 90 .300 .768 132 172 77 71 371
2013-14 35 113 239 .473 97 186 .522 16 53 .302 .741 127 164 89 90 342
Career 148 440 958 .459 348 682 .510 92 276 .333 .737 492 694 337 324 1314
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 6/18/2014.

2013-14 Season

PPG: 10 | FG %: 47% | FT %: 74% | 2P %: 52% | 3P%: 30% | APG: 5.4 | Steals Per Game: 3.0

Career Highlights

Quotable

“Coach always says his best basketball teams are the ones that take care of business academically. I’ve definitely seen that. I’ve seen, if you can figure it out academically you can figure it out basketball-wise. Basketball is a bigger thinking game than a lot of people give it credit for, whether it’s memorizing a scouting report or being able to break down film and see where you messed up, how you can take advantage of a situation. There’s a lot more mental capacity that you need to play basketball at the highest level.

Talent can only take you so far. Guys like Steve Nash, who’s been in the league for how long? I heard a quote from him. He’s been playing all these years, and he said a year or two ago, “I’m finally starting to understand how to play.” That amazed me. That’s Steve Nash. That’s an NBA MVP, one of the best point guards in the league. He’s saying (more than 15) years into the league he’s just now understanding how to play basketball. Your mind controls a lot more than you think.” — Craft to Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy before the 2012-13 season.

Strengths

It’s pretty obvious what your strength is when you have been named a conference defensive player of the year twice, hold the conference record for steals and was second in the nation when it comes to defensive win shares last season.

Craft is the best on-ball guard defensive guard in this draft and has an energy level that is nearly unmatched.

As is his work ethic and commitment.

Craft, who was an all-state quarterback his junior year of high school, quit football to focus on basketball and improve his skill

Four years later he still has some major deficiencies in his game, but he has carved a niche that NBA coaches absolutely love.

Every locker room needs a defensive stopper that goes 100% in practice. A guy that annoys other players into working harder because he never lets off the throttle.

One thing that Craft has improved over the last few years is his ability to distribute on offense. His assists per game numbers were second in the B1G last season.

Weaknesses

It’s been asked multiple times on the internet — which has more of a hitch? Charles Barkley’s golf swing or Aaron Craft’s jump shot.

If that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what will.

The senior was expected to step up offensively for the Buckeyes this year after losing Deshaun Thomas in the NBA Draft. Many thought that he would be the catalyst that got them back to the final four.

That just didn’t happen offensively.

For some players, it always seems like there is room to improve those parts of their game. In all honesty, for Craft — that’s trying to fit a square into a circular hole.

And it showed in his game. Craft turned the ball over nearly three times a game compared to less than two his junior season.

He will have to develop a mid range game at least to sell the pick and roll. If he can master that, or find a way to get past defenders, even though they know he won’t shoot it — then he could fill a consistent role.

Outside Perspective

To get a unique view of Aaron Craft’s four years at Ohio State we asked The Buckeye Battle Cry’s Ken Kohl to share his thoughts on Aaron Craft’s chances to succeed in the NBA.

Despite a stellar four year career as Ohio State’s point guard, there is some question about where Aaron Craft should go in the NBA Draft; if, in fact he should be drafted at all. All season the conventional wisdom has been that Craft is ‘maybe-marginal’ for the NBA because as a point guard, which will be his position, he is a) not athletic enough nor b) not good enough 3-point shooter. My opinion, after watching Aaron Craft for four years is that as a General Manager, you need to give the young man a shot on your team. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers..

For comparison, I compared Craft’s senior year numbers to NBA point guard performance, courtesy of ESPN.

Stat
Aaron Craft
Ranking among NBA Point Guards
Points9.8Top 20
Assists4.7Top 15
Steals2.5Top 2
Rebounds3.6Top 15
FG %47.3Top 10
3P%30.227th

Craft played 85% of game minutes for Ohio State this season. Granted, NCAA is not the NBA in terms of physical demands, but playing in the Big Ten is not far off. He’s tough and has good stamina.

His offense is serviceable, his rebounding and assists are good and his defense is outstanding.

So, if you were an NBA GM, would you draft Aaron Craft? Well, I can’t answer that for you, since the different teams have different needs. I believe that he can play at an NBA level. Craft is a top competitor on the court and in the classroom; he brings an “it” factor to the game. What isn’t shown in the table (above) is “Basketball IQ”. Aaron has it. The other non-quantifiable trait is his tenaciousness, particularly on defense. In the Big Ten, Craft was one of the most despised (by other teams’ fans) players in the league because he always challenged your team.

Always.

If you’re not comfortable using a draft pick on Craft, you can hope that no one else does either and you can sign him as a free-agent.

You’d be better off having him on your team than playing against him.

Thanks again to The Buckeye Battle Cry’s Ken Kohl for sharing his insight on Aaron Craft from an Ohio State Perspective

Fitting the Pistons Glove

I’m convinced that Craft could play a role on nearly any NBA team. The question is, what team will value that role enough to use a draft pick on him.

Craft possesses a lot of positive attributes that at times seem non-existent in this league. Draft experts often talk about teams looking for players that have areas of their game that are well defined.

At the least, Craft will be a great leader by example in a professional locker room, while playing spectacular defense.

With Brandon Jennings and Will Bynum leading this team at the point, it might be smart to have a third guard that can play in key defensive moments.

There is a lot more important needs though for Stan Van Gundy and Company.

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