In the Glue Guys podcast, out Wednesday, Bruce Brown was asked who among his teammates had surprised him, someone whose game he might not have appreciated till they got on the court. On a team with a lot of talent, Brown didn’t hesitate.
“The person I hadn’t seen a lot that was killing it in training camp was Reggie Perry,” said Brown. “He was killing it. He looked like he could be in the rotation. He was doing a little bit of everything, hitting three’s, jump hooks, killing people, killing D.J. low key. He literally was killing training camp.”
That sentiment had been echoed by other players back in December ... and by Sean Marks. But it’s hard to find a rotation spot when your roster includes Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green, then Jarrett Allen and now Nicolas Claxton ... particularly when you’re a 20-year-old who was taken with one of the last picks in the second round.
The Nets have been patient with Perry, the SEC Co-Player of the Year last season (with the Knicks Immanuel Quickly). But they’ll also been optimistic.
At the end of February, two games after his first NBA double-double, the Nets dispatched him to the G League “bubble.” Steve Nash, however, was careful not to suggest that the Nets optimism had diminished. He also laid out his areas of strength, where he thought he could improve and the main reason the Nets wanted him to join Long Island.
“We like Reggie’s skill set. He’s a guy that can develop into a very good 3-point shooter and he’s got a good feel for the game,” Nash said. “He can pass. He can play triple-handoff, pick-and-roll in the short role, make plays for his teammates, and he’s skilled around the basket.”
Nash added that if Perry continued to develop, he certainly can help Brooklyn while also noting he wants his rookie to continue to get minutes down there to help development.
“If he continues to develop in all those things and is able to defend at an improved and accelerated rate, he is definitely an NBA player and can help us,” Nash said.
Now, with the Long Island Nets season over, Perry is back in Brooklyn. He has yet to play but he’s been active in cheering on his teammates. Tom Dowd writes on the Nets official website that the Nets are still happy with his development after the G League stint, just being patient. After all, he’s just been in what Dowd called, “basketball boot camp.”
Nash provided Dowd with an update after talking with the 6’9” Mississippi State product.
“He said he really enjoyed it,” said Brooklyn’s head coach. “He played I think 15 games or something, so for him it was great to play. For him, I think that’s a great development opportunity. And he’s, obviously we have a lot of depth at center right now, but we still think that he has a lot of potential in this league and we’re thrilled that he had that opportunity to grow and play and regardless of what happens here, we see Reggie having a future in this league and becoming a good player.”
“What happens here”, of course, means the Nets playoff run when rotations shorten and experience counts.
Perry averaged 18.1 points and 8.9 rebounds for Long Island while playing 28.8 minutes per, with a shooting line of 52/32/77. That middle number was considerably higher till an end-of-season slump. He also displayed some playmaking ability averaging 2.9 assists per game. Long Island coach Bret Brielmaier said the Nets wanted to give Perry room to grow, room to be creative.
“A big who can make those type of reads and create opportunities for other scorers is so unique,” said Brielmaier. “And then the other one that really stood out, and I think coach Nash has spoken out about his ability to do so, is shooting the basketball from three. He really has a gift and a soft touch to his shot and as he continues to grow and get more comfortable with the distance of that line, I think you’ll see his percentage, his efficiency just continue to climb.”
Perry recalled that before he headed to Orlando for the shortened season, he sad down with Sean Marks.
“That was really helpful,” said Perry. “I feel like it was a good thing that they did that, because eventually that would be my role, being able to stretch the floor, being able to playmake out of pick and rolls. I feel like the best thing with our G League team is we’re on the same page as our NBA team and we’ll run the same sets. Them just putting the ball in my hands a lot more is really what helped my development a lot.”
Perry is still on a two-way contract that pays $449,000 but if he’s active for 50 games by the end of the 72-game season, he’ll double that under the NBA’s new G League rules. So whether he plays or not, if he’s in uniform cheering, he’ll get credit for it. Next season, the Nets are likely to see where Perry fits in their future plans. But so far, so good ... and they have have what they want with him and his fellow bigs: flexibility.