Detroit Pistons 2021 Early Draft Profile: Tanner Groves

Tanner Groves #35 of the Eastern Washington Eagles (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Tanner Groves #35 of the Eastern Washington Eagles (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Tanner Groves is a junior and has one more year left at Eastern Washington, but his performance against 3-seeded Kansas could put him on the Detroit Pistons’ draft radar for the near future.

If the Big Sky MVP chooses to forgo his final year of NCAA eligibility, he should be on second-round draft boards.

Throughout the regular season, he averaged just shy of a double-double, but as a bulky and physical power forward his skillset should transition to the professional level.

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For someone who is used to handling the ball in a crowded paint, Groves manages to do a good job protecting the ball. Only one turnover per game is nothing to ignore.

This season was his first as a starter, so if he continues to improve at this rate there is absolutely no reason not to roll the dice in the second round, and if he waits for another year he could be a steal in the second round.

Possible Pistons draft picks: Tanner Groves opened some eyes

Yesterday against Kansas he scored 35 points and grabbed five boards. His points came from deep and the paint and he fought through the overbearing Kansas defenders, who knew exactly where the ball was going but were still unable to stop him.

Usually, he shoots about 36 percent from deep, but yesterday he was 5-11 and was contested on a lot of those shots.

The reason Eastern Washington lost was that they were unable to stop Kansas from scoring in the second half, seemingly at will. Groves is not a defensive stud, and yesterday proved that. The physicality and confidence he has on offense were seemingly gone on the defensive end, and he was bullied under the basket.

If drafted by Detroit, he could be an immediate scoring and rebounding factor, but a defensive liability. This is especially weird because he has the strength and weight to be a solid defender, he is just missing the mindset and finesse. Luckily, these can be taught.

Second-round picks are usually projects or bench players. Groves will certainly be both, but he has a massive upside. Similar to Charles Barkley, Keldon Johnson, and Draymond Green, Groves can body larger defenders and score on them, so he will contribute as soon as he steps on the court. The only question is: do the Detroit Pistons want to teach him how to defend as well as he can score?

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