Quick, who are these players?
I apologize for the image quality, after trying to get Chorus to import a table for a good while, I gave up and did the screenshot.
I’m sure you can guess that one of them is Tari Eason, and it is. Tari is “C”, on a Per36 minute basis. B is OG Anunoby, the player that the Toronto Raptors had to get “multiple first round picks” in order to trade last season. They didn’t end up trading him. You can see that OG was probably better than Tari, maybe the same, by this measure. This was, of course, OG’s age 26 season, rather than age 21 season, and it was his 6th in the NBA. That’s a pretty strong showing by Peso as a rookie.
But who is “A”? A is also OG Anunoby in his Age 21 season for Toronto. That season was OG’s second in the NBA.
The point being, Tari Eason, on a much worse team than the 58-24 Toronto Raptors of OG’s second season, pretty much blew the doors off that year for him. Tari mostly matched career peak year (age 26) OG Anunoby, at least by this same metric. (I’ve used it because Tari didn’t get bigger minutes, for reasons best known to the Rockets coaching staff, so some of the goodness of what he did is lost in pure counting stats.)
But of course there are other things, like defensive intensity. Well, yes, Tari looks pretty good there, too.
The point being, if OG is a player that people seriously talked about being worth multiple first round picks, and Tari showed pretty clear signs of getting close to that production as a rookie, where to next?
That’s an excellent question. The Rocket have a hopefully emergent Jabari Smith Jr. They signed The Vestryman, Dillon Brooks. They’ve got a SF/PG/Model in Amen Thompson. They’ve got two SG/SF types in Kevin Porter Jr and Jalen Green. They’ve got Jae’Sean Tate. (We can see why, despite the seemingly low rate of return, that KJ Martin had to depart. Notice we haven’t even considered Cam Whitmore here.)
And yet, the best of the bunch at SF/PF might be Tari Eason, right now. If Eason shows the form he displayed in Vegas Summer League, Peso’s looking like an NBA starter level player. If his three point shot is real (and he can actually make dunks and layups?), he definitely is. Even with Fred Van Vleet and Dylan Brooks around, Eason is maybe the best ballhawk defender on the Rockets. He’s certainly got a lot to learn, but it’s pretty clear, absent regression, he’s already got a lot to offer, too.
Where are his minutes going to come from? As much as some people don’t like the idea of Jabari Smith playing more center, and playing backup to Sengun, that’s really the best way to get Eason more time. At 6’8” he can certainly hold down the “PF” role on most occasions, or Brooks can, while Eason stays at SF. That gets Tari probably up to around 32 minutes, which might be the best we can hope for seeing. Probably not music to Jock Landale’s ears, but that’s the way it goes.
Not much has changed since I wrote this back in July. There’s still a minutes crunch. The crunch didn’t get a ton better with the various departures, because the Rockets added two starters in free agency, plus Amen and Cam.
In some ways my best hope is that Dillon Brooks redeems himself, and people see his deal as great value. He leaves in a trade next offseason, and Tari assumes the full-time role in 24-25.
Tari’s Minutes Per Game
This poll is closed
Luka wouldn’t even stand for this question. Why should Tari?