Kyrie Irving believes Aaron Craft can play in the NBA
One of the best guards in the pros thinks one of the best guards in college -- who has his doubters -- can make the jump.
Up above is just a video from Monday night of Kyrie Irving doing things during a Cavs preseason game that have never been done inside Ohio State's home arena. Irving's going to be the best point guard in the NBA within three years.
It ties into what Irving had to say Monday night about OSU senior point guard Aaron Craft. Before the game started, Irving was asked about Craft's ability, in part because the Cavs were on Ohio State's campus, but also because Craft was said to have played exceptionally well against Irving over the summer. The former Duke point guard held a basketball camp in his home state of New Jersey, and certain pros/college guys got the invite to participate.
As for Irving's belief in Craft, here's the account from Scout.com:
But while it remains unclear how the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year actually faired against the 2013 NBA All-Star, this much is clear: Craft earned Irving’s respect during his visit to New Jersey. Before taking the court for a preseason game between his Cleveland Cavaliers and the Philadelphia 76ers inside of Columbus’ Schottenstein Center on Tuesday, Irving said that there isn’t a doubt in his mind that Craft could play at the NBA level.
“Oh yeah. I believe so,” Irving said when asked if Craft could cut it in the NBA. “He’s a leader, he’s a tough defender, he’s been working on his offensive game. I’m interested to see the things that he’s learned from the camp and the things that he’s accomplished this summer in terms of his game and see the difference between his junior and senior year. He did well against the other campers. He played me tough and I know he learned a lot at the camp.”
Asked if he could play at basketball’s highest level, Craft gave his typical modest answer. Although he may not know whether or not he’ll be playing in the NBA at this time next year, he’d certainly like to be.
“I hope so. If not, we’ll see what happens,” Craft said. “When you come to college and you come and play at a place like Ohio State, you want to go play at the next level.”
Craft is arguably the best on-ball guard defender in college basketball; only Russ Smith could challenge him in that debate. But despite his defense, he is a little undersized and is not a shooter. DraftExpress.com has Craft projected as a second round pick right now, but NBADraft.net and ESPN.com's big board do not list Craft among the top 100 prospects.
I try not to get too into college players' pro potential until we actually get to the offseason, after players have declared. Yet Craft remains an interesting case. He's a polarizing player, oddly enough, and his skill set seems so good for the college game. Just because that may or may not mean he can be an NBA guy has caused room for discussion over the past two years. Realistically, Craft is probably going to have to up his average from 10 to 14 or 15 per game if he wants a shot at being a surefire pick come June.
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