Rockets' Tari Eason deserves a formal apology

2023 NBA Summer League - Detroit Pistons v Houston Rockets
2023 NBA Summer League - Detroit Pistons v Houston Rockets / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Tari Eason has already proven to be a gem for Rockets GM Rafael Stone, as the 6-foot-8 forward was drafted outside of the lottery with the 17th pick. The Rockets landed the pick from the Brooklyn Nets by way of the James Harden trade.

Eason flashed the potential to be a true two-way wing in the NBA as a rookie, as he wasted no time proving his value and worth. In spite of Eason's promising rookie campaign, he didn't crack The Step Back's list of breakout players in 2023-24.

The list was configured by Lior Lampert and seems to favor second-year players and/or forwards, like Eason. The full list is below.

5. New Orleans Pelicans forward Trey Murphy
4. Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner
3. Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray
2. Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Jalen Williams

The natural inclination as it pertains to slights on these types of lists is to bash other players who did make the cut, which wouldn't be fair in this case, as they are all talented, like Eason.

So instead, I'll simply state why Eason should be on the list.

Why Rockets' forward Tari Eason deserves an apology

As a rookie, Eason flashed the potential to be a stalwart on the defensive end, as his length and quickness created a disadvantage for opponents.

Eason's defensive switchability figures to garner favor with new Rockets coach Ime Udoka, who has a defensive-focused philosophy. Eason averaged 1.2 steals per contest and .6 blocks as a rookie.

Offensively, Eason's 3-point shot was a question heading into the league, and his 34.5 percent from deep on moderate volume (2.1 attempts) should draw a level of comfort as he enters year two.

Eason also flashed the ability to be a secondary facilitator as a rookie, which was further on display in the Summer League, where he averaged four assists per contest and dished the pass on Jabari Smith Jr.'s game-winning shot against the Portland Trail Blazers.

To that point, Eason was one of the better players in the Summer League tournament, as he averaged 23.5 points (4th-best), 9.5 rebounds (tied for 9th), 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 1 steal, flashing his defensive abilities. The second-year prospect also made 36.4 percent of his triples on 5.5 attempts.

Eason is also not afraid to attack the basket and score. His athleticism makes it quite easy for him to excel in this area.

And don't forget about his knack for creating second-chance opportunities on the glass, as he finished second on the Rockets in offensive rebounds in 2022-23.

But the masses can continue to sleep on the Rockets' stellar two-way wing. He'll only use that as fuel.