The Garden of Eason
Today's edition of Draft Film School focuses on Draft Twitter's new darling, Tari Eason, and his happy place - the open court
Tari Eason seems to be the new darling of Draft Twitter, and if you watch him play, you can see why. Eason is a 6’8” 215lb Sophomore Forward from LSU who is putting up ridiculous numbers across the board. Through 12 games he’s averaging 15.8pts, 7.4reb, 1.7stl, and 1.4blks in just 23.5 minutes per game (per Sports Reference). Even the advanced stats love him and his 4.1% STL%, 8.5% BLK%, and 14.8 Box Plus/Minus via Barttorvik. Tari Eason is the definition of a “disruptor” on the basketball court. He’s long, he’s athletic, and he has great instincts. It’s funny that I named this article after something from the bible, because he puts opposing teams in hell. But in this case, one team’s hell is another team’s Garden of Eason. I’m not a very religious man but I like to think of The Garden of Eden as finding your own “happy place” ala Happy Gilmore.
And there is no denying that Tari Eason’s happy place is the open court. Through 12 games this season, Eason ranks in the 92nd Percentile in Transition, scoring 1.442 PPP (points per possession) while shooting 74.2% (per Synergy). He creates his own Transition opportunities via steals/blocks, has tremendous grab & go ability, and can also fill the lane and attack the basket off of feeds from teammates. Today, we’ll take a deeper dive into each of these and I'll show you some examples. Let’s dive in!
Table via Synergy
Defense to Offense:
LSU plays a very aggressive and pressing style of defense which definitely helps inflate Eason’s STL% numbers, but the facts are the facts. Eason creates these events in multiple ways including jumping passing lanes, or just straight up stripping his man and has the ball handling and coordination to run coast-to-coast and finish. In 18 possessions as the Ball Handler in Transition, Eason ranks in the 98th Percentile, scoring 1.442 PPP while shooting 71.4% (per Synergy). Let’s take a look at a few clips shall we?
Eason has the instincts to jump passing lanes as he shows above, anticipating the pass coming from Devoe and gets his hand in there to bat it away but keeps it under control so he’s able to maneuver around Devoe and finish with the dunk in transition.
Now this is less about instincts and more about the Ohio guard just coughing it up, but the finish was too much fun not to share. Around the back gather into a dunk at full speed without skipping a beat?! Totally normal behavior from a 6’8” 215lb human.
Eason also can just snatch the ball away from guys without fouling. In the above clip he is in an off-ball position to start but once he sees Michael Devoe (one of the best scoring guards in the country) stumble, he pounces like a Tiger (see what I did there?) and snatches the ball from him leading to a take foul (please implement an advantage rule like soccer or something).
A similar situation here as Eason punishes the lackadaisical ball handler and finishes with an emphatic dunk in transition.
And here is a clip for all of you saying “oh cool thanks for showing us a clip vs McNeese State”...well here he is stripping the potential overall #1 pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, Jabari Smith, and taking it coast-to-coast while weaving around and past multiple Auburn defenders on his way to a scoop layup and-1 finish. Again, totally normal behavior for a 6’8” 215lb human being.
Grab & Go:
Tari Eason is a great rebounder and this also allows him to create transition offense for LSU. He has the combination of speed and ball handling to take the ball off the rim, to the opposite rim in the blink of an eye:
This clip really shows off this straight line speed as he grabs the rebound and immediately sprints toward the other end. No hesitation, no regard for human life, just eye on the basket and flushes it.
But even when he takes his time off of a rebound, he still can manage to beat his man off the dribble and finish with the layup. A rare LEFTY layup might I add. Eason is typically a right hand dominant finisher, but that’s a topic for another day.
While Tari Eason is dangerous in transition with the ball in his hands from start to finish, he is equally as lethal when he starts off the ball, showing the awareness to fill lanes correctly and be decisive once he receives a pass from a teammate. In 25 possessions starting off the ball in Transition (i.e. Leak Outs, Middle, Right Wing, Left Wing), LSU scores 1.44 PPP while shooting 76.5% (per Synergy).
This is one of my favorite clips from Eason. He switches onto Michael Devoe here and just stone walls Devoe as he tries to drive baseline, leading to a turnover. Eason then fills the open lane on the wing, gets the pass from Pinson, takes one dribble around the defender, one dribble to gather, and dunks. Poetry in motion.
Here he fills the middle lane and blows past Jabari Smith and finishes with the LEFT hand again. Eason seems to trust his left hand more in transition than he does in the halfcourt but this is still nice to see. Impressive finesse shown with the finish on the potential #1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
And the last clip I’ll leave you with highlights something I have not touched on yet, Tari Eason’s passing. He has show some passing flashes but nothing consistent enough to label him a good passer just yet. However, this play is a nice change up and shows he doesn’t always have blinders on when playing on the break. As the trail man here he fills the middle lane and places a nice drop off pass to Alex Fudge immediately after receiving the ball.
Side note - If you haven’t read Tyler Rucker’s (aka Backcourt Violation) recent piece on Alex Fudge, you should do so. He’s another really unique prospect on LSU: Go Fudge Yourself.
While I still have question marks about Tari Eason’s offensive role and impact within the half court, there is no doubt he will provide immediate impact in transition at the next level. The physical tools, paired with his ability to create turnovers, grab & go, and fill the lane make him a threat in the open court. I may not be as high as some folks on Draft Twitter, but I think Tari Eason is firmly in the back-end of the 1st round at this point. For the rest of the season I want to see more consistent passing reads, improved spot up shooting, and continued success as a roll man in the half court. We will learn a lot about Tari Eason from here on out against more SEC opponents and during the NCAA Tournament. With continued success against stronger competition, I can see Tari Eason move up to the “happy place” on my Big Board: The Lottery.
I’m a big LSU fan, they’re a great team to keep a close eye on. Eason should find himself in the lottery, with continued success into the tourney! Thanks for the great piece Alex!!