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Did Nets get a ‘sleeper’ in Reggie Perry? Sean Marks thinks so ... and he’s not alone

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NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets did well in the 2019 NBA Draft, taking an SEC big man in the second round. Georgia’s Nicolas Claxton has only played 187 minutes in the NBA but before he hurt his shoulder, he showed as a 4 or a 5 not that far down the road. As the season wore on, a lot of pundits —and his teammates— thought the near 7-footer was a solid pick for No. 31.

Eighteen months later, in the 2020 Draft, the Nets went back to the SEC and grabbed another big. This time, they waited till No. 57 to take Reggie Perry out of Mississippi State. acquiring him as part of the rolling three-team trade announced Thursday night. The 6’10” Perry had a better resume’ than Claxton when picked, and like him, Perry has fans among Nets scouts ... and some pundits. Moreover, he’s got Brooklyn and New York roots. His father was born in Harlem, his two uncles in Brooklyn.

“We enjoyed watching Reggie this last year at college and I think he brings a different facet,” Marks said Friday talking to the media. “He is a big man out there with a forceful nature and step out on the floor as well as play in the post but we had him much higher on our board. I look forward to seeing him develop, I look forward to seeing him in camp, and going from there.”

Here’s a reel of the kind of action his scouts watched...

Marks was not alone in believing Perry could have gone higher despite the fact that no external mock had him higher than No. 38. Jonathan Givony of ESPN believes that if Perry wasn’t seen as a “rough dude,” he might have gone as many as 30 spots higher.

“They got Reggie Perry at 57 and that’s a good pick,” Givony said of the Nets on Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast Thursday. “People were a little bit scared about him, attitude wise. He played a little bit selfishly at Mississippi State. He’s a little bit of a rough dude but that guy can play. He’s athletic. He’s got scoring instincts, He was a big time player in the SEC as a sophomore.

“I think if there weren’t concerns about what kind of dude he is, I think he goes in the 20’s. For them to get him at the end of the second round, he could end up being a sneaky guy especially if they have to gut their roster. you’re going to need guys that can play and so, he could give you 10 or 15 minutes,” he added, referring to a potential trade for James Harden.

Mike Schmitz, who works with Givony on ESPN’s Draft analysis, wrote earlier about how Perry had been impressive at the NBA’s Draft Combine in Las Vegas but he too noted some concerns about Perry’s “decision-making.”

“Perry put up big numbers during his sophomore season at Mississippi State, averaging 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 blocks per game in 31 minutes, but he did a lot of his damage in the paint and was spotty with decision-making and defensive impact,” wrote Givony. “But watching him in Vegas, Perry shot the ball comfortably from 3, made plays out of handoffs and short rolls as a driver and passer, played above the rim and showed the agility to defend away from the basket.”

Givony didn’t supply any details other than reports of “selfishness” to warrant the “rough dude” description and his coach in Starkville, MSU’s Ben Howland, was very supportive of Perry before and after the Draft. Perry himself thanked Howland and his staff Wednesday, saying, “Mississippi State prepared me for the NBA by helping me mature on and off the court. The coaching staff made me a better leader, held me accountable and made sure I’d stayed in tip-top shape in the gym.”

However, Aran Smith of NBADraft.net laid out some of what Givony may have been thinking in his scouting report.

All around feel for the game has come under question as there are times when he will make a head scratching play, and can go through stints of inconsistency … Also prone to losing his cool emotionally and can become frustrated with teammates when they make mistakes.

The Thomasville, Georgia native is still only 20 but already has, at a chiseled 250 pounds, an NBA body. He also has a FIBA gold medal and MVP award from last year’s U19 World Cup in Greece...

He won that MVP in a tournament that featured teammates Tyrese Halliburton, drafted at No. 12 by the Kings and Kira Lewis Jr., drafted a spot later by the Pelicans as well as Jalen Green, star of Team Ignite, the G League’s development squad.

He followed his FIBA success with another accolade just as the pandemic hit, being named SEC Co-Player of the Year for the COVID-abbreviated 2019-20 season.

The Nets didn’t seem to be concerned by any of what Givony said or Schmitz or Smith wrote. They think they got first round value deep in the second. They’ll worry about the rest of it, whatever it may be, when Perry arrives in Brooklyn in the next few days. It won’t be the first time they’ve taken a chance on a pick that others undervalued ... for whatever reason.

The Nets haven’t signed Perry yet. Marks said they plan to bring him into training camp. After that, they have a few options. They could keep on the Brooklyn roster, sign him to a two-way deal and play him in up to 50 NBA games or sign him directly to the Long Island Nets roster, as they did with Jaylen Hands last year. He wouldn’t count against either the cap or roster that way.

In any event, the general belief is that the Nets did well, especially considering all they had to work with after trading the 19th pick for Landry Shamet was a pick deep in the second. Odds, of course, are against him. Players taken in the 50’s have only about a 10 percent chance of making an NBA team rotation.

Oh by the way, Perry and Claxton did play one game against each other in 2018. Perry had 12 points and seven rebounds; Claxton had nine points and nine rebounds. Mississippi State won, 68-67.