Tari Eason's tools and hustle might be too good for Spurs to pass up

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San Antonio Spurs
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Tari Eason has a long way to go before reaching his ceiling.

Many analysts have expressed concern with Eason’s offensive potential, but the Seattle-native makes do with what he has. On a per-possession basis, he was one of the nation’s best scorers who finished his sophomore campaign in the 89th percentile for overall efficiency, according to Shot Quality. His 61.5% true shooting mark was among the best in college basketball for those attempting 10 or more shots per game including several 3-pointers.

Offensively, Eason’s best skill is his at-rim finishing with the right hand. The 6-foot-8 forward builds momentum like an avalanche when racing to the rim. He does an excellent job of adjusting his pace and reacting to the layout of the floor in front of him, manipulating defenders while they race back and attacking gaps in their coverage. While he’s partial to a thunderous throwdown, Eason is also a silky finisher who’s sure to impress with an acrobatic finish.

You’ve probably heard of players who are contact-averse -- Eason is the exact opposite. He’s one of the best in his class at drawing contact and finishing through it for and-one opportunities. Completing those plays isn’t an issue for Eason, who knocked down a commendable 80.3% of 188 free-throw attempts in his sophomore campaign. Any team would make use of his foul-drawing ability, but San Antonio desperately needs it. No Spur averaged more than 3.6 foul shots per game and the team ranked second-to-last in attempts per game.

In the halfcourt, Eason can be deployed in a variety of styles. Whichever team selects him will need to spend time improving his shooting form, which can be inconsistent and leans too far on the right side of his face. He’s shown some hesitancy on the catch-and-shoot that won’t fly against fast-paced NBA defenses.

And yet with all of these concerns, he still nailed just under 36% of his 3-pointers and a commendable sum of mid-range jumpers as well. Defenders will need to respect his shot as he grows more comfortable after time with the support of NBA shooting coaches.

Self-creation is arguably the area of Eason’s game with the most potential. In flashes, he’s been able to chain together dribble moves to catch his defender off guard and create space for a shot opportunity. An underrated part of his offensive package is the triple-threat, which is deployed to force defenders off balance and open unique angles that help him get to his spots.

Over time, there’s a chance for him to develop a deadly in-between game that would push him into the next tier of NBA talent. To get there, Eason desperately needs to work on finishing and dribbling with his left hand, which is a huge hindrance to his scoring ability.

Since his handle is still shaky, he cannot be trusted to make his own shot consistently during the early stages of his career—if ever. Furthermore, his decision-making has a long way to go if he’s to become more than an offensive role player. These aren’t simple tasks and he may never break past that mold, but if Eason can learn to finish with his left and tighten that handle, there’s All-Star potential in his future.

NBA offenses should still be able to get use out of Eason’s offensive game by putting him in the dunker spot, tossing up lobs, having him cut, and giving short bursts of individual creation. Working with NBA playmakers who can fit the ball into tight windows will make his job much easier.