Pick 17: Tari Eason (Forward, LSU)
Tari Eason, unlike Chet Holmgren, has been mocked to the Rockets. If he makes it to 17, the Rockets would be wise to bring him into the fold. Eason has an intriguing combination of physical traits and incredible statistical output.
Listed at 6’8, Eason measured at the combine as a power forward but can also credibly play small forward. He had the largest hands of any power forward measure at the combine, and both his wingspan and standing reach were above average. If he had measured as a small forward, he would have been first or second in standing reach and wingspan. His positional size and versatility give him the physical foundation to be an excellent defender.
Eason isn’t just a measurement monster. His statistical output was top-five in the NCAA. He was 4th in PER and 3rd in win shares per 40 minutes and box plus/minus last season. His block and steal percentages were also elite, and those two traits usually follow prospects from college to the NBA.
While Eason projects as an excellent defensive prospect, his offensive production was equally impressive. At LSU, Eason came off the bench for most of the season, which limited him to 24.4 minutes per game, but he still managed to average 16.9 points per game on 56.4% shooting on 2-pointers and 35.9% on 3-pointers. Perhaps most promising is that he shot 80.3% at the free throw line, which is a good indicator for future 3-point shooting success.
At the worst, Eason will be a solid 3-and-D wing/forward, and if his offensive game develops, he could become a two-way star. The Rockets need players between 6’6 and 6’9 to fill out their wing rotation, and Eason looks poised for a long and productive NBA career.