The 11th overall pick belongs to the New York Knicks who will be looking to add a talented young player to the roster. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is a defensive genius and adding defensive personnel won’t hurt. Tari Eason has a defensive reputation. Although the prospect is on the raw side, Eason’s addition to a hungry Knicks young core would be a good thing.
Tari Eason is a 6’8” forward with massive hands and a 7’2” wingspan who can also guard all five positions. The LSU product by way of Seattle, Washington has shown some good shooting touch by knocking down 14-straight free throw attempts to end his collegiate career. Eason averaged 16.9-points and 6.6-rebounds per game. Eason also averaged 1.9-steals and 1.1-blocks per game. The 6’8” athletic forward got to the free throw line 188 times and shot it at 80%. Over the last nine games of the 2021-22 collegiate season, Eason shot 50-of-56 from the free throw line. The Seattle native’s three point shooting was a semi respectable 36% last season at LSU.
The semi-finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year needs work just like any other rookie. Although Eason is a superb defensive playmaker due to his phenomenal physical measurements and instincts, he often gambles on defense. Offensively, Eason is phenomenal in transition, however, his inconsistent three point jump shot needs work.
The athletic forward who first attended the University of Cincinnati before finishing his second collegiate year at LSU would bring more defensive versatility. Offensively, Eason could put pressure on the rim by continuing to use his physicality to earn free throws. Eason being a solid free throw shooter is extremely crucial for his draft stock.
There are some who compare Tari Eason to Kawhi Leonard due to physical measurements and defensive ability. However, Eason reminds me of a player the Knicks drafted in the second round of the 2004 NBA Draft with the 43rd pick by the name of Trevor Ariza. Five years after being drafted by the Knicks, Ariza became an NBA champion alongside the late great Kobe Bryant. Defense was Ariza’s calling card, and I see the same kind of future for Tari Eason on the defensive side of the basketball court.
Tari Eason won Sixth Man of the Year last season at LSU. Matt McMahon is the current head coach for LSU, who also coached Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant at Murray State. McMahon was the head coach of Murray State for seven years before he recently agreed to a 7-year deal to become head coach for LSU March 21st 2022. LSU assistant coaches, Casey Long, Ronnie Hamilton, Cody Toppert, and special assistant to the head coach Tasmin Mitchell helped Tari Eason and LSU to a 22-12 overall record for the 2012-22 season.
Assuming the Knicks trade some veterans including Julius Randle and and make Obi Toppin the starting power forward, a Tari Eason draft pick would make all the sense in the world. Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks would love nothing more than to become elite defensively again. Tari Eason would help as a rookie, however, long term, Eason’s natural talent on both ends would be a developmental coach’s dream.