Tari Eason is someone who has a lot of split opinions on him depending on who you ask. I know people who have him top 5, and others who think he’s worth a late second round pick at best. Here’s the thing with the draft though, it’s normally always somewhere in the middle. For me personally, Tari Eason is in the late lottery on my board.
He’s a prospect with a lot to him, and a few things against him. The eye test for a lot of people leads them to have him lower than people who value stats higher, because the stats love Tari Eason. However, I think you have to account for both. I don’t think the eye test is all that bad either. He has some quirks to how he plays, but h definitely left a positive impact in most of the games he played at LSU this season.
He has played two college seasons, one at Cincinnati for his freshman season, and one at LSU after he transferred there. He improved a lot since his freshman year and has rapidly rose up boards this cycle. Being a sophomore does make him an older prospect at 21.1 years old on draft night, but there are still gobs of potential to Eason’s game.
Weight: 217.4 lbs
Age: 21 years old on draft night (05/10/2001)
Eason’s Sophomore Season Per Game Statistics
Tari Eason averaged 16.9 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, and 1.0 assist per game. He did this on 52.1 percent from the field, 35.9 percent from 3, and 80.3 percent from the free throw line. He also averages 2.2 turnovers per game, a negative part in his game. As far as defensive numbers, he averaged 1.9 steals per game and 1.1 blocks per game. He was named 2021-22 sixth man of the year as well as making the 2021-22 All-SEC team.
Tari Eason was someone who was a big contributor to LSU’s defense. It can be a bit difficult to actually know how good or bad he was because of LSU’s aggressive defensive scheme. They would consistently be one of the most aggressive defenses in the NCAA — trapping, helping off of guys — it made it relatively difficult to evaluate prospects’ defensive traits at times. However, Tari Eason proved himself as a defensive prospect.
He would at times provide smart and good help defense. If someone got blown by, he’d do his best to deter his man from the rim. At his best he was someone who could defend on and off the dribble, get steals and blocks, and be a smart help defender.
Speaking of steals and blocks — he was good at those! Getting 3 steals and blocks a game. He’d get steals from helping off his man, getting in passing lanes, and sometimes off the dribble. He would use his athletic tools to get blocks as well. We’ll get to why I use potential instead of just defense in his weaknesses.
Tari Eason showed many flashes of being able to put the ball in the hoop at LSU through a variety of ways. He was a serviceable 3 point shooter, a good off ball cutter, and someone who could create for himself off of the dribble as a driver. He could utilize his physical tools to punish mismatches, and his handle was good enough to take bigger players off of the dribble as well.
His jump shot was a bit of a question mark with him, and in a lot of ways it still is for a lot of people. He is not a consistent shooter, and is probably a slightly worse shooter than his percentages would indicate. However, some people pitch him as a non-shooter and that’s incorrect. It will take some time for him to be a consistent threat from beyond the arc at the next level, but he will get there.
Can Be Too Aggressive
Tari Eason has a lot to both ends of the game, but is held back by how high his motor is. It’s not uncommon to see him make a bad decision on defense and leave his man open. Not because he isn’t trying, but because he’s trying to disrupt things too much. It’s a double edged sword in the way that his motor is what makes him such a high energy and disruptive player, but he also can try to be too disruptive. On offense he can force up shots at times that shouldn’t be forced up, or be called on charges because he was going with a full head of steam.
Tari has good passes, and potential to be a decent connecting playmaker in the future. One thing though — he commits over double the turnovers as he does passes. It is evident whenever he plays that it is one of the bigger issues in his game — turning the ball over on 13.5% of the plays he’s involved in. It can be an issue chalked up to his over aggressiveness at times, but it is something that might not be as big of an issue at the next level, as he won’t be relied on to create as much, especially initially.
Tari Eason is someone who is a divisive prospect. Some see the over eagerness and the rawness to his game, and write him off. Others see a potential top 5 pick. As for me, I fall somewhere in between. I don’t see him as highly as others due to the issues his approach to the game can bring, and some general issues with his feel for the game in certain aspects of the game. But there are also a lot of thing to like about his game, and I buy into his shot more than his detractors do.
He’s a very interesting prospect and could be a high end connector for a competing team one day. His scoring potential and ball handling indicate that he could be more than just a connector as well. The defense is something that could be molded to be more refined and in general a more productive defender; while still possessing that drive and aggressiveness that makes him special.
In order to get him, however, the Nuggets would likely have to trade up. He is going to be a good player, and is someone likely to go in the lottery or just outside of it. I think he’d be a great fit in Denver, and with Denver’s development staff could be a great piece to have alongside the already existing core as well as someone who can play and make an impact right away. Trading up for Tari Eason might not be the worst idea.