NBA Mock Drafts: Jimmy Butler Clone Falls to Sixers in Round 1

Tari Eason

Getty LSU forward Tari Eason has been drawing comparisons to Jimmy Butler ahead of the 2022 NBA draft.

The love affair — a complicated relationship singed with a touch of regret — between Philadelphia 76ers fans and Jimmy Butler won’t die. He was the guy Joel Embiid wanted to captain the ship, but there was too much turmoil at the top. Instead, Butler chose to flee to Miami in free agency.

Butler’s all-around game is a luxury in today’s NBA. Teams are constantly looking for two-way players who can lock all windows and doors on defense while slashing to the rim and getting physical on drives. The Sixers could benefit greatly from adding a big, rangy defender. And there could be one sitting there for them in the first round of the 2022 NBA draft.

Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo has LSU forward Tari Eason falling to Philadelphia at pick No. 23. The 6-foot-8, 215-pounder was expected to be among the first 14 players to go off the board, with Washington surfacing as a prime landing spot at No. 10. Especially after wowing at a Wizards’ pre-draft workout on June 6.

Maybe not. Woo cited a “suspect” basketball IQ for reasons he might fall. If so, the Sixers surely would be happy to roll the dice and take him. He checks a lot of boxes.

Woo wrote: “Eason would be a pretty interesting option here, considering his analytics-friendly production and his potential fit as a big, rangy defender. Eason is a bit of a work in progress despite already being 21, and he’s an acquired taste amongst teams, but this could be a sensible landing spot. Eason’s basketball IQ is a bit suspect, and he’s foul-prone and an average shooter, but if he can iron those things out he should be able to help a team.”

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Eason Drawing Jimmy Butler Comparisons

Scouts are wary to draw outright comparisons between raw prospects and proven veterans, especially when that comparison is a six-time All-Star. But it’s hard to watch Eason and not see some similarities to Butler.

He’s physical and gets to the free-throw line while giving max effort and demanding the same from teammates. This is what Calvin Chappell of SLC Dunk wrote:

His best offensive skill is his ability to draw contact. He makes physical drives reminiscent of Jimmy Butler, forcing the defenders to be physical in return, often resulting in free throws.

Eason is a textbook energy guy. He plays at 100 miles per hour all game long. He attacks the boards, goes for steals, dives for loose balls, and pumps his teammates up. You can’t teach that type of effort and desire. Some have it, while others don’t. Eason has it.


‘Baby’ Kawhi Leonard: Spurs Keeping Tabs

The San Antonio Spurs are another team thought to be high on Eason. They could target him at pick No. 20; the feeling is mutual between the two sides.

“I see their player development and how they do things and I really like them as a team,” Eason said of the Spurs, via Tom Orsborn. “They’ve been on my radar for a while.”

Putting Eason under the watchful eye of Gregg Popovich would be doubly intriguing considering his slight resemblance to Kawhi Leonard. He has enormous hands — 11-inch width, compared to 11.25-inch width for Leonard — and 7’2″ wingspan (7’3” wingspan for Leonard).

Remember, Leonard started his career in San Antonio and won his first championship there playing for Popovich. The Sixers are all too familiar with Leonard. If there is a chance to grab “Baby Kawhi,” then they should.


Tari Eason Mid-SZN LSU Highlights | 16 PPG, 7.5 RPG & 55% FG | 2022 NBA Draft Prospect6-8 & 20-year-old #LSU sophomore forward #TariEason has been one of the Nation's most effective and efficient performers on both ends of the floor through 6 weeks. #GeauxTigers The athletic two-way forward and Seattle native is averaging 16.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.4 blocks in roughly 23 minutes a game as the sixth…2021-12-21T22:19:34Z
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