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NBA Draft Profile: Tari Eason Could Be Major Steal for Sixers if He Falls in Draft

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The 2022 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 23. The Philadelphia 76ers, after the Brooklyn Nets decided to defer the pick owed to them from the James Harden trade, hold the 23rd overall pick in the draft. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Sports Talk Philly will be releasing profiles on several of the prospects the team could be interested in at No. 23.

Tari Eason is a talented wing who is coming off a strong season as a sophomore at LSU. He was named to First Team All-SEC and was the 2021-22 SEC Sixth Man of the Year. Primarily coming off the bench, he posted strong numbers in his lone season at LSU: 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks in 24.4 minutes per game.

Strengths

Eason, while being a solid player offensively, thrives more on the defensive end of the court. He is one of the more talented defensive wings in this draft class, averaging nearly two steals and a block per game last season. He knows how to use his length (7-foot-2 wingspan) to his advantage. He possesses a great combination of size (6-foot-8, 216 pounds) and quickness to be able to guard both small forwards and power forwards with ease. He was often tasked with guarding the opposing team's top scorer, and he took that assignment in stride. He also is an above average offensive rebounder for his size, grabbing 2.3 offensive boards per game last season.

There is also plenty of positives to his game offensively. He is great at getting down the court and attacking in transition. He has the verticality and athleticism to be able to excel at finishing around the rim, making multiple highlight-reel style dunks last season at LSU. While not being a great outside shooter, Eason does excel at getting to the free-throw line. He attempted 5.7 free throws per game last season, one of the highest rates in college basketball, and he hit them at an 80.3% clip.

Weaknesses

While being an excellent defender, he can at times be overaggressive causing him to get into foul trouble. He fouled out in six games this past season despite playing in only 24.4 minutes per game. He has a ton of talent defensively, but there are some things needing to be cleaned up.

He also needs to make more progress improving on his outside shooting. He already made some strides as a 3-point shooter, improving from 24.1% as a freshman to 35.9% on nearly double the attempts per game this past season. However, there is clearly more work to be done to refine his outside shooting, including working on raising the height of the release on his jumper.

He will also need to improve as a passer, something he currently struggles with. He averaged 1 assist to 2.2 turnovers per game last season. While he can certainly get by right now without being much of a playmaker, it is something NBA teams will look for him to improve on throughout the first few years of his career.

Fit on the Sixers

Eason would fit perfectly on the Sixers roster. The team is in great need of wing players, and Eason fits the bill. He would likely be able to step right into the starting lineup, especially with Danny Green set to miss most if not all of next season with both a torn ACL and LCL. He has some ways to go to work on his offensive game, but there is a ton of potential for him to develop into a good two-way player.

Grabbing a player with his level of athleticism and defensive prowess would be huge for the Sixers. LSU even had Eason play some minutes at center. While he is not likely to be used in that manner at the NBA level, it just goes as another sign of his defensive versatility.

Most mock drafts have Eason going somewhere in the back half of the lottery and therefore not falling to the Sixers' pick at No. 23. However, there is some slight rumbling about him potentially being a player who falls down the board on draft night with Sports Illustrated's latest NBA mock draft having Eason falling to the Sixers. There are definitely some kinks needing to be worked out in Eason's game, but if he falls at No. 23 he would be a major steal for the Sixers.

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