With the 9th overall pick in the draft, the San Antonio Spurs select LSU’s Tari Eason.
In the first version of our mock draft, we had the Spurs selecting AJ Griffin 7th overall, but looking at how well Keldon Johnson has played recently, I’m finding it more and more difficult to believe that Griffin has shown enough for the Spurs to not mind such a lateral move. With Duren off the board as well, I think the Spurs will be narrowed down to only a few choices, but I think they’ll be big believers in Eason’s defensive impact and shooting potential on offense.
Eason is the statistical darling of this draft cycle that is not named Chet Holmgren, and considering that he only started four games for the Tigers this season, that statistical impact is even more impressive. Per Basketball Reference, Eason ended his season top 5 in the entire NCAA in player efficiency rating (PER), win shares per 40 minutes, offensive, defensive, and overall box plus/minus, and defensive rating. He also had the 9th-highest steal percentage in the NCAA at 4.5%.
On offense, Eason had a bit of a slow start but came on very strong toward the end of the season. On nearly six free-throw attempts per game, he shot 80% from the line and likely would have done even better if it weren’t for that slow start. Being that he also shot 36% from three over the course of the season, his shooting is very believable at the next level and could improve even more.
Eason grabs lots of rebounds, is one of the best in his class at turning defense into offense, has a good handle for his size, will likely be able to guard three or four positions in the NBA, has a knack for getting to the free-throw line, and does lots of the dirty work on both ends of the floor. The more I watch him, the more I think Eason makes the most sense for the Spurs toward the end of the lottery.