The 2022 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 23. Since the Nets decided to defer the pick owed to them as part of the James Harden trade, the Sixers will select 23rd overall. Ahead of the draft, we’ll look at several prospects that could fit the Sixers and be realistic possibilities at No. 23.
LSU’s Tari Eason is a talented wing that is arguably the best defender in this draft.
Eason has an impressive track record. He played under former NBA All-Star Brandon Roy for his first two years of high school before transferring to Federal Way High School where he played alongside Jaden McDaniels. He spent two years at LSU where he was named to First Team All-SEC and SEC Sixth Man of the Year. He averaged career-highs across the board; 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.9 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game in 24.4 minutes of play.
Tari Eason made some strides offensively in his sophomore season. Eason is a good ball handler for his size at 6-foot-8. He’s more than capable in transition and has solid footwork while finishing at the rim. He knows how to use his 7-foot-wingspan, and his highlights often showcase the bounce he has. One of the most impressive developments was Eason’s capability at getting to the line, at 5.7 attempts per game — one of the highest rates in college basketball.
His percentages last season (52.1 field goal, 35.9 three-point) look good on paper, but his shot may need some refinement at the next level. It’s somewhat mechanical looking, and he shoots the ball from beside his head at a low release point. The offensive upside is there, but he’s still too reliant on straight-line speed and is flat out uncomfortable finishing with his off-hand. Eason needs to improve as a passer, as he only averaged 1 assist compared to 2.2 turnovers. Most NBA teams won’t ask him to do much playmaking early in his career, but it is something worth noting in his potential upside.
This is the area where Tari Eason shines. Eason was LSU’s sixth man and was often tasked with guarding the toughest opposing offensive talent. He blocked shots at a high rate last year and was disruptive in the passing lanes. I would argue that Eason has enough size and rebounding ability to play either forward spot. In fact, he was an above average offensive rebounder for his size.
Like most talented defenders, Eason does suffer from gambling at the wrong moments, which can lead to defensive breakdowns or fouling out entirely. Eason fouled out in seven games this past season while coming off the bench and only averaging around 24 minutes per game. While there is some room for improvement, Eason is arguably the most complete defensive player in this draft.
Eason would fit like a glove with this current Sixers squad. The Sixers have lacked an athletic forward with size since Glenn Robinson III back in 2020, and they’ve desperately needed one on defense since. The Eastern Conference features a multitude of talent on the wing, including Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, and Kevin Durant to name a few. Eason’s offensive game still needs some work, but there’s a decent chance he can develop into a two-way talent.
LSU even had Eason play a large amount of minutes at the center position. While NBA centers are a whole different breed than college centers, this is just another testament to how versatile Eason is on the defensive end. You could make some pretty interesting small ball lineups with him at the five!
There doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus on where exactly Eason will go. There are mock drafts that have him being picked anywhere from mid-lottery to around 20. If I had to bank on a guess, I’d say he’ll probably go somewhere in the late-lottery — teams can’t get enough of two-way talent. Eason is already a tremendous defender and has shown offensive potential.
My guess would be that the Sixers would have to trade up to the late lottery at minimum to get him. However, we all know firsthand how talented players *cough* Maxey *cough* can fall in the chaotic environment of the NBA Draft. Crazier things have happened!