"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."
- Aaron Craft, former OSU point guard (via Marcus Hartman, FS Ohio)
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Aaron Craft found his excessive amounts of downtime during the NBA Summer League "challenging." Craft, not exactly renowned as a party animal, was quoted as saying that "there is plenty to do, but there's a big difference between what you can do and what you should do." He reportedly filled most nights with dinners with friends, rather than the casino scene.
Craft's goal in Vegas was to play his way into an NBA contract. After a stint with the 76ers in Orlando, he suited up for the Golden State Warriors in Sin City. The former B1G defensive POY averaged 4.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals, and 2.3 turnovers in 16.6 minutes per game. Per Mercury News' Tim Kawakami, Craft also "absolutely outplayed" the Warriors' 2013 first-round pick, Nemanja Nedovic.
Nedovic was pretty terrible in limited minutes as a rookie last season, shooting just 20.5% from the floor. Craft is no offensive juggernaut, but he defends better than Nedovic. If becoming the Warriors' third PG this season isn't realistic this season, it becomes much more so next year. By then, the Warriors will have had a chance to decline Nedovic's 2015-16 option. It's also important to note that the Warriors don't have exclusive rights to Craft--as a free agent, he could sign with any team that wanted him. The D-League or a European club are also pretty realistic options.
"Turner does a lot of things well but does not blow you away in any single area of his game."
- Rob Oller, The Columbus Dispatch
As LGHL reported on Monday, former Wooden Award winner Evan Turner has signed a free agent deal with the Boston Celtics. Details of the contract have not yet been released, but Turner will play for a part of Boston's midlevel exception. The former No. 2 overall pick will join fellow Buckeye Jared Sullinger, who emerged as one of the Celtics' lone bright spots last season.
What remains to be seen is whether or not 2nd-year Boston coach Brad Stevens will be the coach who finally makes Turner stick. The 6'7 guard has struggled to find a niche in the NBA, vacillating between identities as a spot-up shooter and point guard who needs the ball in his hands.
So far, Turner seems to have played himself out of the good graces of fans in both Philly and Indiana. Oller calls him a good "complementary piece," which is hardly what you'd want out of such a highly-drafted prospect. Still, if Stevens can find a way to utilize Turner's size and ballhandling ability--say, as a hybrid point forward--one has to think the fans of a struggling Celtics team will be a little more welcoming.
"Another Ohio State undefeated season would not be shocking."
- Brian Bennett, ESPN Big Ten Blog
Bennett's quote comes from a longer response to a reader mailbag entry. The submission in question asked which team has the better chance of going undefeated in 2014: Ohio State or Iowa. While on the surface that question seems pretty ridiculous--no one in their right mind thinks Iowa's the more talented team--conference realignment has left the B1G West the weaker of the two divisions. The Hawkeyes don't have truly difficult games until their last two, when they face off against Wisconsin and Nebraska (both home contests for Iowa).
Still, going a full 12-game season without losing a contest isn't something that's accomplished solely by playing middling opponents. It takes a good deal of offensive firepower to win that many games in a row, as the Buckeyes well know--OSU hasn't lost a regular season game in two years.
Ultimately this thought exercise is pretty one-sided. Kirk Ferentz has a solid team (including this scary beast of a man), but the Buckeyes are the B1G team to beat this season until someone proves otherwise. Even in a watered-down West, the Hawkeyes are bound to lose a game or two.
"If Miller puts together a year that showcases an NFL arm, then his chances at playing the position in the pros will obviously be much greater."
- Brian Perez, FirstRoundGrade.com
Perez's piece comes in response to a report (via Rotoworld) that at least one NFL scouting service is only giving Braxton Miller a running back grade. There are still obviously some concerns about Miller's ability to make all the throws needed to succeed in the NFL, but his mechanics and accuracy have improved throughout his tenure with the Buckeyes.
There are plenty of lazy available comparisons, including fellow Buckeye Terrelle Pryor. Pryor has struggled as an NFL passer, and lost the starting job in Oakland last year to rookie Matt McGloin. Some considered him to be a better TE prospect than QB prospect out of college, but Pryor has famously said that he doesn't know how to catch. A more relevant comparison might be former UM QB Denard Robinson, who is the projected 4th or 5th WR on the Jacksonville Jaguars depth chart. Robinson suited up at RB for the cellar-dwelling Jaguars last season.
One has to think that the probability of Braxton Miller seeing playing time as a running back in the NFL is low. Robinson was a superior runner to Miller, but the Buckeye QB is miles ahead of where Robinson was as a passer at the same stage in Robinson's career. Miller has also never played anything but quarterback for the Buckeyes, while Robinson took snaps at tailback during his last season in Michigan after ceding the starting spot to Devin Gardner.