Tari Eason's time off the bench lends itself to lessons at Blazers workout
Another day, another potential forward the Portland Trail Blazers might draft came into town for a workout with the team.
Friday's workout session featured six players, highlighted by LSU 6-foot-8 forward Tari Eason.
Colorado forward Evan Battey, Wichita State guard Tyson Etienne, Harvard guard Noah Kirkwood, Louisiana Tech forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Arkansas guard JD Notae were also in town for the workout on Friday.
Eason, averaging out as a mid-first round pick in most mock drafts, has seen his stock rise over the last couple weeks, potentially thanks to Portland being his eighth workout already.
The 21-year-old came off the bench for the Tigers and still led the team in scoring with 16.9 points per game. He also averaged about two steals a night and one block, showing plenty of potential to be an all-around talent.
For his efforts, he was named the SEC Sixth Man of the Year as he finished sixth in the SEC in scoring, ninth in rebounds (6.6 per game) and blocks and tied for fifth in steals.
"I think it was a really good learning experience," Eason said of coming off the bench. "Taught me how to be ready and stay ready at all times, which are some of the real ingredients in being a pro. So, it taught me some really valuable lessons."
The knock on Eason is his shooting and playmaking ability, which has been a bit up and down at times. He shot 52.1% from the floor last season in Baton Rouge and shot 35.9% from deep. Eason averaged one assist per game and didn't always look comfortable driving to the hoop.
While the shooting and overall offense leaves more to be desired, offense really isn't the main focus of a Blazers team expected to start high volume scorers in Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons at the guard spot.
A player like Eason with plenty of defensive talent could be intriguing to help provide the second layer of defense behind Lillard and Simons.
Not only does Eason fit some of the holes Portland has, the Pacific Northwest wouldn't be too big of an adjustment for him.
Eason played three of his four high school seasons at Garfield High in Seattle, coached by former Blazers star Brandon Roy.
Not only that, Eason described current Blazer Trendon Watford as a "big brother" to him as Watford also went to LSU.
"It'd be special, my high school coach played here, I've been down here several times for AAU tournaments, I have family around this area," Eason said. "I have some roots down here and it'd be special to come back."
Watford was in on the workout to help out his fellow Tiger, as well as Lillard, the latter of which has been seen at several of the team's summer workouts so far.
Wichita State's Tyson Etienne said he got a chance to speak with Lillard, his favorite NBA player.
Like Etienne, Lillard came from a smaller school in Weber State, and having that need to prove yourself is something Etienne can relate to.
"It's always about just keep working, you have to show and improve every day," Etienne said. "Nobody is going to give you a pass because you come from a small school."
Lillard and the Blazers might just pass on the draft though as plenty of reports continue to come out about trade talks involving Toronto's OG Anunoby, Atlanta's John Collins, Phoenix's Deandre Ayton, Detroit's Jerami Grant and Chicago's Zach LaVine.
The NBA Draft is slated for June 23 and until then, there's plenty of workouts still to be had in Portland as first-year GM Joe Cronin tries to figure out how to make the Blazers contend again.
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