Amazon Contextual Product Ads

Monday, July 30, 2012

Scouting Report: Aaron Craft

Height: 6'2''
Weight: 195lb
Bday: 2/12/1991

Team: Ohio State
Class of 2014

Aaron Craft is back at Ohio State, once again assuming the role of point guard on the team favored to win the Big Ten. Craft has been an important member of the Ohio State team since his freshman year when he averaged 29.6 minutes per game.

When Craft first stepped on campus, he looked and played like a four year player who would go down in Ohio State history as a fan favorite. His defense, toughness, character, and unselfishness all are admirable characteristics. Craft also seemingly had plans of a four year college career and is on the path to become a surgeon.

ESPN recently wrote a feature on Craft after he finally had surgery to remove bone chips in his knee. The toughness of this kid is obvious as are the smarts. You can't ask for much more in the work ethic and "will to win" departments.

Aaron Craft initially earned his minutes purely off of his defense. He is currently regarded as possibly the best perimeter defender in the nation. While normally I don't like to use steals as an indicator of good defense, Craft's 3 steals per 40 minutes are different. Craft doesn't get those steals by gambling and playing passing lanes. Most of his steals can be attributed to being a pure pest on the ball. Craft has excellent lateral quickness to harass ball handlers, but most of all he has the toughness and determination. He also has extremely quick hands and you will see him on the floor for a loose ball at least once a game. He takes pride in his defense. He knows that is the number one thing he can bring to a team. Craft often stifles the opposition and forces them into bad decisions because quite frankly, nobody else in the NCAA pressures the ball like him. He does a great job of frustrating the opposition and flirts with the line of dirty play. The simple fact being that Craft will do whatever it takes to win.

In today's NBA, a good defending point guard can be very useful. Even though Craft's halfcourt press defense might not be as effective due to the speed of the NBA, he still has what it takes to be a very good defender. He also does a good job of getting through screens, something that is essential in the NBA game.

If you look at a team like the Pacers, they have Brandon Knight, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Jennings, and Derrick Rose all in their division.  That is 16 games against teams that rely heavily on their point guard to score and create offense. Craft could make himself could money pestering those kind of guys for 15-20 minutes a night.

If Craft once to get into games though, he may have to step up his offensive game. Right now he is more of a game manager - someone who can bring the ball up and initiate offense from the top of the key. Just like his lateral quickness on defense, Craft has a quick first step and can go to his right or left. The problem with Craft is not getting by his man, it is what follows after.

He has trouble finishing inside, as the one thing he lacks athletically is the leaping ability. The creativeness around the hoop also isn't there. Once Craft gets by his man, he is basically a straight line driver that is in trouble if there are shot blockers present inside. He has not shown much of an in-between game or the shiftiness require to overcome his lack of explosion near the hoop. He only got to the line 3.3 times a game while turning the ball over 2.2 times in the process. He actually improved on that a bit from his freshman season, but his offense game hasn't noticeably evolved.

Craft really hasn't had to be pushed out of his comfort zone much at Ohio State. He isn't very good at creating offense, but he has always been surrounded by others who can. Even with Sullinger and Buford gone, Craft with have DeShaun Thomas and a host of talented sophomore that can help mask his deficiencies. As Craft's career moves on at Ohio State, his role has not. He is still able to concentrate on his defense. This may be good for him in college, but isn't helping his development for the future.  

Looking at his offense further, he doesn't make a lot of plays in the pick and roll. He seems to be more comfortable attacking the basket one on one, which he does with no fear. It is kind of weird that Craft isn't more effective in the pick and roll given his smarts, but he has shown some questionable decision making in key points of games. Craft is unselfish, but he is not brag worthy. He just gets the job down in that category.
The biggest thing that makes him a point guard is his leadership qualities. Due to this, he doesn't ever project to be a starting point guard.

His jumpshot is solid, but he rarely looks to shoot it. He averaged 1.6 3-pt attempts per game and I would be willing to bet most of them were open spot up chances. He doesn't look for his shot off his dribble and as stated early, his mid-range game is lacking. When he does get to the line, he is only a 72% FT shooter. Because he lacks the sniper mentality, a guy who is always ready to fire, I doubt Craft will be a 3-pt specialist type on offense. He will be solid there and will shoot when open, but he is not the second coming of Kirk Hinrich on offense.

Overall, Craft has a lot to improve on but his competitiveness, work ethic, toughness, smarts, unselfishness, and defense are all things that translate to the next level. His offense is what could keep him from making it. He's a lot better than say, Chris Kramer, but he isn't near as good as Kirk Hinrich or even Eric Snow. I know Chad Ford reported that there was one GM who said he would take Craft in the lottery and others who see him as a first rounder, but I think he is the quintessential second round pick. He may stay all four years, but whenever he is ready to declare, there will be plenty of teams willing to welcome his strengths with open arms.

No comments:

Post a Comment