Golden State Warriors's Aaron Craft (4) reaches for a loose ball against the Phoenix Suns during an NBA summer league basketball game on Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Las Vegas.
It’s safe to say Aaron Craft is no Johnny Manziel.
In case there was any doubt, the former Ohio State point guard removed that in a blog entry he wrote for NBA.com about his experience in Las Vegas for summer league play earlier this month.
"The most challenging part is the free time," Craft wrote.
Given his reputation as a gym rat and an obsessive student, that seems only fitting, but he went on to explain further what he meant for anyone who might be incredulous about his perception of a week in Sin City. It was a business trip for him, after all.
"Basketball is so natural and practice was great, but at 3 pm you’re on your way back to the hotel with nowhere to be until 10:30 the following morning," he wrote. "Of course it’s Vegas, so there is plenty to do, but there is a big difference between what you can do and what you should do! I mostly went to dinner with some friends — lots of good places to eat in Vegas."
The stat line Craft put together in 10 summer league games — including time with the Philadelphia 76ers in Orlando and the Golden State Warriors in Vegas — was probably about what was to be expected as well for a player known as a defensive wizard with a suspect jump shot.
In 16.6 minutes per game, Craft averaged 4.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.3 turnovers. He made 3 of 10 three-pointers while shooting 45 percent (13 for 29) overall from the floor. While his offensive game remains a work in progress, he hopes to have convinced a team he can fill a role as a 6-2, 195-pounder who can harrass opposing point guards when asked.
Could that opportunity come with the Warriors? New Golden State GM Steve Kerr has previously gushed about Craft during his work as a college basketball analyst, and GSW beat writer Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News wrote a few days ago it seemed like a possibility after Craft "absolutely outplayed" 2013 first-round pick Nemanja Nedovic in Vegas.
"Craft doesn’t project to be a regular back-up PG for Stephen Curry at any time, and certainly not this season," Kawakami wrote. "Craft, like Nedovic, isn’t going to rain jumpers down on anybody and isn’t very big, and, like Nedovic, Craft can be turnover-prone.
"But the former Big 10 defensive player of the year is miles ahead of Nedovic as a defender, which is large when the Warriors are always looking for somebody who can chase around tough point guards for a few minutes at a time. Plus, Craft seems at least equivalent to, if not ahead of, Nedovic as a guy who can jump in and pass, cut and direct an offense for short periods, if necessary."
There are business factors at play, too, as Craft could present more roster flexibility in the future than Nedovic, who has a $1.15 million option for 2015-16 the team must decide to pick up before the end of this coming October. (According to sportrac.com, Nedovic’s contract guarantees him $1.1 million this season.)
Craft is a free agent, so he could sign with another team whether the Warriors want him or not, and the possibility also exists he could end up in the NBA D-League or head overseas when all is said and done.