Tari Eason is a versatile 6’8” forward who turned 21-years-old in May. He is one of the most coveted defensive forwards in this draft. Eason’s high floor and clear two-way ability will have teams in the mid to late lottery rushing to select him. Eason doesn’t ooze limitless potential, but NBA-ready players intrinsically provide massive value to contending and semi-contending franchises.
Tari Eason Scouting Report
Eason transferred to LSU after a decent freshman season at Cincinnati. Despite coming off the bench and only playing 24.4 MPG, Eason managed 16.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG on a 52/35/80 shooting split. He made his mark on the defensive end, where he produced 1.9 SPG and 1.1 BPG. Eason’s dominance earned him SEC 6MOY and a spot on the All-SEC squad. LSU was upset by 11th seed Iowa State in the First Round of the NCAA Tourney; however, Eason managed 18 points on 5/9 from the field and 7/7 from the charity stripe.
Weight: 217 lbs
Strengths: Eason’s transition offense is fantastic due to his high motor and deceptive speed. He often grabbed the rebound and went coast to coast with ease. By nature, Eason is a slasher who thrives when driving to his right side. Defenders found it demanding to cut off Eason’s drives because of his length and strength. His aggressiveness, body control, and size will allow him to efficiently score the basketball around the rim. Eason drew free throws at a great clip because of these traits. He even had success spacing the floor, as he made 35.9% of his threes on 2.4 3PA. Eason flashed potential as a solid catch and shoot threat who defenders cannot sag off of.
Eason’s 7’2” wingspan, active hands, and non-stop effort terrorized opponents on the defensive end. He constantly jumped passing lanes and excelled as a help-defender by swiping inside on opponents when they drove. Eason’s best trait is his superb anticipation. He timed his block and steal attempts perfectly, and he mirrored opponents well. When players managed to get around Eason, his length and speed allowed him to recover rapidly. Overall, he can guard 2-4 while surviving stretches against point guards and bigger centers.
Weaknesses: Eason’s offensive ceiling doesn’t expand into playmaking or pull up jumper territory. He threw errant passes and lacked smooth decision making. It led to him playing out of control and coughing up turnovers. I don’t think he will become a reliable secondary playmaker.
Defenders can play his drive without worrying about a pull up mid-range jumper. Because his left hand/side is relatively weak, defenders can also cut him off and force him to go that direction. He’s more of a transition and cut threat than pick and roll force. And while he had success from deep, his upside as a plus perimeter shooter is uncertain. He often missed left and right badly, and Eason struggled when shooting contested three-pointers. I think he will be decent enough to space the floor, but Eason doesn’t have the upside of 38-40 3PT% on solid volume.
Tari Eason Stats
Tari Eason NBA Draft Ranking, Team Fit, Landing Spot
Draft Ranking: I have Eason ranked 13th because his defense is legit and certain aspects of his offense are translatable to the NBA.
Team Fit: The Atlanta Hawks at 16 are the best fit for Eason. With John Collins about to be traded, they will have a hole at power forward. Eason can fill it immediately and provide Atlanta menacing defense. With Trae Young in the lineup, it’s imperative to acquire as much defensive talent as possible. The Hawks are striving to contend, and Eason’s NBA-ready skill set and frame is perfect.
Landing Spot: Eason will likely be drafted in the 10-16 range. The Oklahoma City Thunder make sense at 12 if they select Chet Holmgren 2nd overall. They will need a forward, and Eason may be the best forward prospect available at 12. He isn’t a bad perimeter shooter and would form a dynamic defensive duo with Luguentz Dort. The Thunder could run a lineup of Giddey, Gilgeous-Alexander, Dort, Eason, and Holmgren. Charlotte may also select Eason at 13 or 15 in order to reshape their frontcourt. Eason can be a high level backup for Miles Bridges and provide injury insurance for Gordon Hayward. They have to rebuild the frontcourt, and Eason is a great step in that direction.
Tari Eason NBA Comparison
Eason reminds me of Jerami Grant during his last season with the Thunder. Both are long, rangy forwards who can rack up steals and blocks. Grant’s perimeter shooting and playmaking is slightly beyond Eason, who is more of a slasher than Grant. However, their role as two-way impact players who can switch on the perimeter and thrive in transition is similar. Overall, Grant’s offense is higher than Eason’s ceiling, but Eason’s defensive ceiling is higher than Grant’s.