Rockets may have a find in Tari Eason

LAS VEGAS – The Rockets drafted Tari Eason in 17th because he could defend, he could switch 1-4 and Houston needed some of that versatility. They just hoped they could bring his offense with them.

It turns out his offense is fine.

Eason scored 22 points against the Spurs on Monday, along with his 10 rebounds – he’s emerged as one of the if not THE, the all-time top Rockets player at the Summer League. He has a knack for finding spaces on defense to operate in.

“It comes to mind more than any other player I know, I’ve never seen anyone make mistakes and then make good plays like Tari from the same possession,” said Rick Higgins, Summer League head coach for the Rockets . “As we start creeping his flaws deeper and deeper and deeper, we’ll see even more of the great pieces shine.”

While 22 and 10 in the Summer League are far from making it in an NBA game, Eason believes his game will be taken to the next level.

“Anything I bring here I think will carry over to an NBA court. I don’t think I play for myself and do too much,” Eason said. “I think my ability to ground spread, rebound, defend and take down an open three are all things that I’ve been trying to show people that I could do here and I think all of those things could be implemented.”

Higgens said there is still work to be done for Eason. That goes for every rookie in Las Vegas, including Jabari Smith, the Rockets’ No. 3 overall. But Eason looks like a guy who could be an important part of the Rockets rotation in the future.

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There’s so much else going on at the Las Vegas Summer League, here are some other notes and things I saw.

• The Celtics’ Matt Ryan hit the floater three to win the game with less than a second to go to beat the Bucks – and then sprained his ankle in the same play.

Ryan had 23 points that night. He’s a great story, a year ago he drove DoorDash and now he’s playing in a Celtics jersey.

• The great thing about throwing a lob to Chet Holmgren is that it doesn’t have to be that accurate to still work.

• The Rockets’ Josh Christopher was frustrated because he wasn’t getting calls while he was driving that he felt he deserved. Then he missed a rabbit on a quick break. The next time he attacked ruthlessly and got his shot blocked. After that, he was on the hunt for transition opportunities, and when he finally got one, he let all his frustrations out on the sidelines.

• The Magic that knocked out No. 1 Paolo Banchero – not through injury, just because he showed everything he needs in two outstanding games – is the first of many stars to finish in the Summer League . Cam Thomas with the Nets, Josh Giddey with the Thunder and others will be shut down and sent home in the coming days.

And add Trey Murphy III of the Pelicans to that list.

• Spurs guard Josh Primo was placed on the NBA’s health and safety protocols, which likely means he’s eliminated from the Summer League. He averaged 15 points and 4.5 assists per game in two games but struggled from inside the arc (33% shooting overall but 50% from 3).

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