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We’re just over three weeks away from the 2022 NBA draft, and that means star LSU forward Tari Eason will soon find out where his basketball career will be continuing.
Eason — a transfer from Cincinnati who had a breakout year in his lone season with the Tigers as a sophomore in 2021-22 — is seen as an almost certain first-round pick and even a potential lottery pick in this year’s draft.
The latest projection from ESPN basketball insider Jonathan Givony isn’t quite as optimistic about Eason’s chances of going in the top 14, but he still has the 6-foot-8 player going relatively early with the 18th pick to the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls need to add depth in the frontcourt and shore up their defense, which ranked second-worst last season among playoff teams. Eason is one of the most explosive and productive players in the draft, putting consistent pressure on opposing defenses with his quick first step, physicality and insatiable intensity, characteristics that allow him to live at the free throw line. These same traits helped make him one of the most versatile defenders in college, a magnet for steals, blocks and rebounds who flew all over the floor in LSU’s suffocating press while rotating from guarding point guards to big men.
Eason is a dominant defensive player and would certainly help the Bulls in that regard. He was a semifinalist for National Defensive Player of the Year in addition to a lot of production on offense. He averaged 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds coming off the bench, earning the SEC Sixth Man of the Year award in the process.
There are questions about him, certainly. His difficulty staying out of foul trouble is one of the primary reasons LSU chose to limit his minutes last season, and if he’s going to develop into a starter at the next level, he’ll need to find a way to stay on the court. Still, given his wide range of abilities, he’d be a no-brainer pick at this point in the draft.
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