October 4, 2022

The 2022 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 23. Since the Nets decided to defer their pick in the James Harden trade, the Sixers will select 23rd overall. Ahead of the draft, we’ll look at several prospects that could suit the Sixers and be realistic possibilities at No. 23.

LSU’s Tari Eason is a talented winger who is arguably the best defenseman in this draft.

Eason has an impressive track record. He played under former NBA All-Star Brandon Roy 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 the All-SEC First Team and SEC Sixth Man of the Year. He reached career highs in every field; 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks per game in 24.4 minutes of play.

Offense

Tari Eason made some progress offensively in her second season. Eason is a good ball handler for his height at 6-foot-8. He is more than capable in transition and has solid footwork while finishing on the rim. He knows how to use his 7-foot wingspan and his strengths often showcase the rebound he has. One of the most impressive developments was Eason’s ability to reach the line, at 5.7 attempts per game – one of the highest rates in college basketball.

His percentages last season (52.1 field goals, 35.9 three-pointers) look good on paper, but his shooting might need some fine-tuning at the top level. It’s a bit mechanical and he shoots the ball past his head to a low point of clearance. The attacking advantage is there, but it still relies too much on straight-line speed and it’s downright uncomfortable to finish with his left hand. Eason needs to improve as a passer as he averaged just one assist against 2.2 turnovers. Most NBA teams won’t expect him to play much early in his career, but it’s something worth noting in his upside potential.

Defense

This is 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 say Eason has enough size and rebounding ability to play either outpost. In fact, he was an above-average offensive rebounder for his size.

Like most talented defenders, Eason suffers from playing at the wrong time, which can lead to defensive breakdowns or a complete foul. Eason was fouled in seven games last season coming off the bench and averaging only around 24 minutes per game. Although there is room for improvement, Eason is arguably the most complete defensive player in this draft.

Positional adjustment

Eason would fit like a glove with this current Sixers team. The Sixers have lacked a sizeable athletic forward since Glenn Robinson III in 2020, and they’ve desperately needed one on defense ever since. The Eastern Conference features a slew of talent on the wing, including Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler and Kevin Durant to name a few. Eason’s offensive game still needs work, but there’s a good chance he could become a two-way talent.

LSU even had Eason play a slew of minutes at center. While NBA centers are a completely different breed from college centers, this is just another testament to Eason’s versatility on the defensive end. You could make some pretty interesting small-ball lineups with him at five!

Projection project

There doesn’t seem to be much consensus on Eason’s exact destination. There are draft simulations that have him pick anywhere from mid-lottery to around 20. If I had to bet on a guess, I’d say he’ll probably go somewhere at the end of the lottery – teams can’t get enough two-way talents. Eason is already a formidable defender and has shown attacking potential.

Guess the Sixers should at least trade until the end of the lottery to get it. However, we all know firsthand how talented players *cough* Maxey *cough* can fall in the chaotic environment of the NBA Draft. Craziest things have happened!