In today's Blade, I wrote about the specter of early departures for the NBA draft raising the win-now stakes for Ohio State and Michigan this March. The story focused on OSU forward Deshaun Thomas and Michigan's "Big Three" — Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III, and Tim Hardaway Jr.
But I also asked one draft analyst for his take on another intriguing case: Buckeyes junior guard Aaron Craft. Could the Findlay native have a place in the NBA after next season?
Here's Joe Kotoch, a former NBA agent who analyzes the draft for ProBasketballDraft.com:
"There is a split among basketball people. I'm of the opinion that, yes, he has NBA capabilities. To me, the biggest question with Craft is whether he's going to progress to be a more consistent shooter. Defensively, as an energy guy, I think he's got a role in the NBA. Is he in a position where a year from now, he's putting up 15 a night and doing it in a way where everybody feels comfortable? Then I think he's a guy who could go in the mid-second round.
NBA GMs always like those kind of guys that bring the intensity and do the dirty work. Craft is going to lock down the point guard. ... Having a guy who's going to mix it up and give you 10 minutes a night is important. if you're the Cavs and you've got Kyrie Irving, great, but Kyrie irving brings nothing defensively. Maybe that changes, but if not, a guy like Craft can spell Irving for five minutes a half so he doesn't have a ton of wear and tear on him and you're still getting defense and a guy who can set things up offensively."
For what it's worth ESPN draft guru Chad Ford ranks the 6-foot-2 point guard as the No. 82 overall player in this year's class. I agree with Kotoch. If the defensive-minded Craft continues to come on offensively — the way he has the past few weeks — there's a place for him at any level.