Houston Rockets rising star has watched lots of Jimmy Butler in order to take major step forward

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Houston Rockets younger Tari Eason revealed that he’s watched film of Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler and Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard to improve this offseason.

“This summer I’ve watched a lot of film,” Eason told The Athletic’s Kelly Iko. “Watched a lot of Jimmy Butler, little bit of Kawhi Leonard. But I watched a lot of my film (from) the season. Things that I can improve, little things. I watch with me or my high school coach, he lives out here. I’m watching film a lot more this summer.

“Standing too straight up, (giving up) backdoors, low man, help-side defense, things like that.”

Eason, the No. 17 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, had a solid rookie season for the Rockets and was named to an All-Rookie team.

He finished the 2022-23 campaign averaging 9.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from beyond the arc.

It seems like the Rockets wing is looking to take the next step in his sophomore season, and there aren’t many better ways to do that than to attempt to emulate two of the game’s best wing players.

Butler, who led the Heat to the NBA Finals in the 2022-23 season, is one of the game’s best two-way players.

The Heat star has led the team to two NBA Finals appearances and three Eastern Conference Finals appearances in the last four seasons. Butler is an efficient scorer, shooting 53.9 percent from the field last season while averaging 22.9 points per game.

Eason could learn a lot from Butler on both ends, as the six-time All-Star has been named to an All-Defensive team five times in his NBA career.

Leonard is a player that is cut from the same cloth as Butler, dominating on both ends of the floor. While injuries have limited the Clippers star in recent seasons, he’s shown a unique ability to score from all three levels when he’s healthy.

Eason is part of a Rockets core that features Jabari Smith Jr., Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Amen Thompson and Alperen Sengun.

Houston has been one of the worst teams in the league over the last three seasons, but it has a chance to turn things around if some of these young players take the next steps in their developments.

If Eason can reach Butler or Leonard levels of play, the Rockets will certainly see that turnaround happen sooner rather than later.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.