Houston Rockets rookie Tari Eason has been named to the All-Summer League first team. He is joined by Quentin Grimes, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Keegan Murray and Cam Thomas.
Eason put together a fantastic Summer League flashing his defensive impact and offensive potential. he averaged 17.2 points, 1.6 assists, 1.8 steals and a Summer League leading 10.4 rebounds per game. He also posted solid shooting marks, hitting 33.3% of his 3-pointers, 78.6% of his free throws, and 49.1% on 2-pointers.
Beyond the stats, Eason's defensive instincts and ability routinely popped. He was able to lock down at the point of attack and was a menace in passing lanes. His defensive chemistry with Jabari Smith Jr. was sensational and the pair of rookies should help improve the Rockets' defense from day one.
Eason was always viewed as a defensive plus heading into the NBA Draft, but his offensive potential appears to have been misevaluated by the rest of the league. He showed the ability to blow by a defender, use his size and strength to create space, and then finish at the rim. His combination of speed, size, and strength stood out and portends the ability to reliably create his own shot.
Summer League should be taken with a grain of salt, but the way Eason showed out, he has to be in the conversation as the starting small forward. His defense from day one will be NBA quality, and his ability to create in transition and as a slasher should give him an instant role on offense. His 3-point shooting will still need to improve, but the best place to practice is on the court and not on the bench.