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How Anthony Tarke can fit in with the Pistons

The reigning MEAC player of the year has a shot to catch on in Detroit.

Syndication: ElPaso BRIANA SANCHEZ/EL PASO TIMES, El Paso Times via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Following a highly decorated single season with the Coppin State Eagles, 6’6 guard Anthony Tarke will try to realize his NBA dreams with the Detroit Pistons.

With a chip on his shoulder after going undrafted, the reigning MEAC Player of the Year will play with Detroit during Summer League in hopes of making the team. Tarke will look to join a young Pistons core that includes guard Killian Hayes, forwards Saddiq Bey and Jerami Grant, as well as new addition and 2021 No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham.

As we follow Tarke’s quest to become only the second active HBCU alum on an NBA roster (Portland’s Robert Covington is the other), here’s how he can contribute for the Detroit Pistons.

Though the Eagles went just 9-13, Tarke dominated in nearly every statistical category, averaging 16.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game.

He plays with physicality, finishes strong around the rim, and thrives in transition. As if the season stats alone do not illustrate how dependent Coppin State was on Tarke’s ability as a two-way threat, the game log will surely quiet the doubters:

  • 20 of 22 games in double figures
  • Eight double-doubles, including a career-high 16 rebounds against Morgan State
  • Six games of 20-plus points, including 22 against Duke to open the season and 34 against UMBC

Tarke had seven games with at least three blocks and 14 games with at least two steals, including eight where he had four or more. By dominating on both ends of the floor, it only makes sense that he was also named 2020-21 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year.

With his physical measurables, above-average athleticism and defensive prowess, all signs point to Tarke translating as the prototypical three-and-D wing at the next level. But of course, no prospect is flawless and even a decorated guard like Tarke has some flaws that, if corrected, could take him to another level. His flaws come in the shooting department.

Although Tarke is a strong finisher around the rim and a solid shooter within 10-15 feet, he struggles from both the free throw line (56.1%) and behind the arc (32.1%).

In a league where three-point shooting is king, Tarke has a steep learning curve if he hopes to carve out a long career in the NBA. But what favors him is that he can step in and make an immediate impact as an athletic wing defensive specialist while slowly developing his shot and expanding his range.

By combining his athleticism and defensive capabilities, he could shape himself in the mold of a more athletic version of NBA champion PJ Tucker or multi-time champion Danny Green.

Tarke’s Fit on the Detroit Pistons

By picking up Tarke in the undrafted free agency pool, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver adds to his treasure trove of versatile wings.

It starts with Cunningham, who is the new centerpiece of the organization and more than likely the primary decision maker for the team’s offense.

Down the roster, there is Bey, who had a breakout rookie season, making First Team All-Rookie while averaging 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds on 38% shooting from three. Then there’s Grant, who had an All-Star caliber first season in Detroit, second-year guard Hayes, forward Josh Jackson, rookie forward Isaiah Livers, and All-Rookie second-teamer Isaiah Stewart.

Along with Tarke, these guys are all 6’5 or taller with the versatility to guard multiple positions. Tarke could still easily be the best perimeter defender of this group as a guy who can guard the 1-3 positions. This gives him the opportunity to take on the opposing team’s most difficult defensive assignment on the perimeter. This can help cover for Hayes’ flaws, as he may be the weakest defensively of the group.

On the offensive end, he can be dangerous in the open court. As an outlet man on fast breaks, he will be an easy target for Hayes and Cunningham, who are both gifted facilitators.

Last season, Detroit was tenth in opponent points per game and 22nd in pace of play. With the induction of Cunningham and Tarke along with the hopeful resurgence of Hayes in year two, the Pistons could sustain their top-10 scoring defense and could skyrocket to top-15 in pace by next season’s end. It could, perhaps, make the Pistons one of the most interesting stories in the NBA.