As presented on a black and silver platter with last year’s No. 12 selection of Joshua Primo, the San Antonio Spurs don’t care about the consensus. Whether they’re picking first, ninth, 30th, or 60th, the franchise is inclined to add players based on their fit with the team’s culture and vision for its future. With that being the case, the feasibility of San Antonio picking LSU forward Tari Eason with one of its three first-rounders is growing as the draft looms.
Rarely does a prospect blend such defensive acumen with intangible traits and dogged engagement the way Eason does. The sophomore was among the most impactful two-way players in college basketball despite coming off the bench. Defense is his calling card, but there are times when Eason’s efficient and commanding scoring profile makes us wonder if there's more to his game than meets the eye.
More so than anything, Eason has innate drive and humility that fit with San Antonio’s culture. The 21-year-old has already expressed an interest in joining the team’s developmental system, citing prior success stories that include Kawhi Leonard—a player and more notably, a prospect to whom he rightfully draws comparisons. Eason already had a pre-draft interview with the Spurs and had this to say about the organization, via Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News:
“I see their player development and how they do things and I really like them as a team. They’ve been on my radar for a while.”
He later mentioned Leonard and recent All-Star Dejounte Murray as examples of Spurs prospects whose progression reminds him of his own path. In many regards, Eason is a more experienced prospect than either of those players were coming out of college. There are deficiencies to work on, like his fouling issues and an unsure handle, but the right fit could help Eason propel himself to the upper echelon of this sport.
Eason's impact on the defensive end can even make him a star if he's developed properly, which I'll look at next.