Draft Notebook: Tari Eason, Blake Wesley, and Walker Kessler

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Draft Notebook: Tari Eason, Blake Wesley, and Walker Kessler

Chicago Bulls

After earning their first winning campaign since 2017, the Chicago Bulls are in line to select with the No. 18 pick in the NBA Draft on June 23rd.

With that in mind, I thought I would share my draft notes on several players who could be available in the late teens on draft night. Keep an eye out for a few of these posts as we inch closer to the big night!

Previous prospects covered:

E.J. Liddell, Jalen Williams, Ochai Agbaji

Tari Eason

Position: Forward
Age: 21
Height: 6’7″
School:
LSU

The Good

  • One of the most naturally gifted players in the draft, he uses his build and raw athleticism to play a bruising game on both ends of the floor. As far as two-way potential goes, Eason’s is among the highest in the 2022 class.
  • Excels most on the defensive end of the floor. Projects to be a player who can guard practically every position. Does a great job closing out and swiping at the ball with a seven-foot-two wingspan. Plays with extremely active hands.
  • Lives to dunk on defenders. An explosive above-the-rim talent who could be a killer in transition. Would fit in marvelously running the floor with Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball.
  • Loves playing downhill and embraces contact. Averaged 5.7 FTAs per game and shot 80.3% from the line. May not be the most creative ball-handler, but he has the combination of size and quickness to put real pressure on the rim.

The Not So Good

  • Does he rely too heavily on athleticism? Eason hasn’t yet shown a diverse playmaking ability, but he has the tools to eventually add that to his game.
  • While he shot 35.9 percent from behind the arc, he did that on just 2.2 attempts per game. Whether or not he can turn into a truly reliable downtown shooter is up for debate. His shooting mechanics are a bit robotic.
  • Can he maintain his level of physicality against NBA size? If so, can that physicality eventually merge with a better feel for the game?

The Comparison

I think a lot about a guy like Miles Bridges when watching Tari Eason. Both are aggressive and fearless players who are consistently looking to break the rim. Not to mention, both entered the league as proven defenders but somewhat questionable ball-handlers and self-creators.

Bridges has also quickly surpassed many of the initial expectations for him at this stage in his career, especially on the offensive end. I think Eason has that same potential.

Blake Wesley

Position: Guard
Age: 19
Height: 6’4″
School: Notre Dame

The Good

  • A quick and extremely shifty athlete who flashed the tools necessary to become a three-level scorer at the next level. Already a decent pull-up game.
  • High-level ball-handler. Not only should be a real threat in transition, but he has the ball control and first step to fly by defenders in the halfcourt.
  • Superior length at either guard position. A six-foot-nine wingspan that really comes in handy on the defensive end. Uses it to strongly contest shots but also jump passing lanes and force turnovers. Led Notre Dame with 41 steals last season.
  • Big-time upside to become a two-way staple in an NBA rotation, hence his top-20 potential despite coming into the year as a non-starter for the Fighting Irish.

The Not So Good

  • While Wesley undoubtedly possesses the toolbox to become a go-to scorer, he played inefficient basketball in college. Shot just 40.4 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from behind the arc.
  • Even more head-scratching, Wesley had just a 67.6 percent success rate from the free-throw line. Not sure if that’s a stat we can throw out in a few years or signs of an extremely inconsistent jump shooter.
  • I worry a little about his off-ball contributions on the offensive end. He projects to be a pretty high-usage player at the next level, which is why I think his current role would be best suited as a sixth man.

The Comparison

I got to be honest, I don’t see the fit for Wesley on the Bulls. He’s a very raw prospect who would surely struggle to find playing time in a crowded Chicago backcourt. With that said, fit normally isn’t the goal on draft night, and we can’t rule out Arturas Karnisovas viewing Wesley’s two-way potential as a worthwhile gamble, especially if he sees him as a possible long-term replacement for Coby White.

Indeed, I’ve seen Wesley compared to numerous Sixth Men already, but I think former-Bull Jamal Crawford fits the bill best. Both have a decent build at the position but rely heavily on their craftiness to get the job done.

Walker Kessler

Position: Center
Age: 20
Height: 7’1″
School: Auburn

The Good

  • A massive human being. Kessler can step on an NBA floor right now and look the part as a rim protector. He is a ridiculous shot-blocker who finished tied for first in the NCAA with 4.6 swats per game.
  • Really solid reaction time and court vision on the defensive end. Can make up a lot of ground in a little amount of time thanks to his size.
  • He’ll be a solid screen and roll man at the next level. May not have the best burst toward the rim, but he has the kind of length that will allow for a lot of lobs.
  • While not the most athletic, he does run the floor decently well. I’ll be curious to see how he does with NBA speed, but he doesn’t seem excessively flat-footed.
  • Offensive rebounding upside.

The Not So Good

  • Unclear if he has a package of post moves. Didn’t seem to do a lot of back-to-the-basket work in college, so I’m not sure if he’ll be ready to back down NBA size.
  • If a guard can get the switch, he’ll blow by Kessler. His lateral quickness isn’t horrible – and his length can help him recover somewhat – but he isn’t the most mobile big man. Pretty much will have to be limited to drop defense.
  • Has yet to show real promise stretching the floor on offense.

The Comparison

I see pieces of a younger Brook Lopez and current Jakob Poeltl in Kessler’s game. Both represent elite shot-blockers who position themselves well around the rim and have great rim-protecting instincts. Outside of the lane, however, there are limitations. Foul trouble might also become an issue for Kessler as he learns to play with the right level of aggression.



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.