Multiple Mock Drafts Have the Bulls Selecting LSU Big Man Tari Eason in the First Round

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Multiple Mock Drafts Have the Bulls Selecting LSU Big Man Tari Eason in the First Round

Chicago Bulls

Due to the NBA’s tampering investigation into the Lonzo Ball signing last summer, the Chicago Bulls have just one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. So they’ll need to get it right. Fortunately, their remaining pick is their first-rounder (No. 18 overall) so they’re in a good spot.

Jonathan Givony over at ESPN’s Draft Express released his latest complete mock draft this morning, and he has the Bulls adding to their frontcourt by selecting LSU’s Tari Eason at No. 18.

Givony had this to say about his decision to slot Eason into the Bulls’ No. 18 slot in his latest mock draft:

The Bulls need to add depth in the frontcourt and shore up their defense, which ranked second-worst last season among playoff teams. Eason is one of the most explosive and productive players in the draft, putting consistent pressure on opposing defenses with his quick first step, physicality, and insatiable intensity, characteristics that allow him to live at the free-throw line. These same traits helped make him one of the most versatile defenders in college, a magnet for steals, blocks, and rebounds who flew all over the floor in LSU’s suffocating press while rotating from guarding point guards to big men.

Eason, who just turned 21 on May 10, averaged 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 1.1 blocks on 52.1 percent shooting for the Tigers in his sophomore season at LSU. As Givony pointed out in his mock draft, the Bulls defense was putrid down the stretch, and they entered the playoffs as the second-worst defensive unit in the field of playoff teams. Eason averaged 1.9 steals per contest for LSU last season and could provide the Bulls with the help they need on that side of the ball.

Eason is ranked 15th on ESPN’s big board and was named first-team All-SEC and Sixth Man of the Year in a breakout campaign this year. After transferring from Cincinnati last summer, Eason came off the bench for LSU and averaged 24 minutes per game. Eason led LSU in scoring despite coming off the bench while shooting 56 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three-point range. He also led the SEC in per-minute scoring and finished second in steals, free throw attempts (and shot 80 percent from the charity stripe), and player efficiency rating.

The versatile LSU big covered fellow bigs and spent plenty of time defending opposing point guards. On the offensive side of the ball, Eason’s 47 dunks and explosive first step make him one of the best finishers in this draft class.

Eason’s seven-foot-two wingspan, his versatility on defense, and his finishing ability make him an intriguing prospect for the Bulls at No. 18. Sam Smith named Eason one of the five forward prospects to watch for the Bulls, and The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie had Eason going to Chicago at No. 18 in his recent mock draft. Vecenie pointed out Eason’s defensive versatility as an attractive skill that the Bulls might be interested in:

“Defensively, there are few prospects in this draft with more potential to guard a variety of players on the ball. He can lose his way at times while executing his team’s scheme, but I bet teams are willing to bet on him figuring that out.”

That’s a bet I would be willing to watch play out for the Bulls at No. 18.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.