His build and physicality stood out, for at 6’8 250 lbs he ran the floor considerably better than I anticipated. He’s an athletic big with a strong lower body, which he knows how to use in the paint.
I want to start with a weakness in NP’s game: he tends to play below the rim. I wanted to see him elevate and dunk multiple times on post ups and drives, but he opted to lay the ball in every time. When defended by guys his own height he was creative and strong to the rim, scoring contested layups. But when TTU put anyone taller on him he struggled to get over, resulting in getting blocked fairly easily. These issues had me wondering if he could stretch and shoot at all...and we found out he can. NP has soft touch on face up jump shots, both from the baseline and elbows. The ball comes out of his hand nicely with good rotation, but it is low, so he’ll need to change/raise the release point to get above NBA defenders. He also shoots the 3 at a decent clip, 37% this season. He showed average ball handling at the top of the key, often trying to take defenders to the basket off the dribble. I liked the aggression and confidence, but his lack of body control often resulted in charges.
At the end of the day, I believe that NP is a bonafide competitor. There were two instances that stood out during Sunday’s game: 1. Nearing the end of H1, Buffalo was down 6 and he was sent to the line for a 1-and-1. He missed the first and was visibly pissed with himself. Some players sulk and/or struggle to hustle back on defense after that, but he quickly pulled himself together. He looked towards the coach as if to say ‘I’m good’ and then got his team aligned for the defensive possession. He moved on, not letting a bad play carry into the next possession. 2. In a critical H2 possession, he set himself up on the wing to receive an open catch-and-shoot 3, but his teammate threw it past him out of bounds. His face was angry/annoyed as anyone’s would be, but instead of choosing to berate his teammate he ran back and began yelling out defensive instructions. Once again, he moved on.
Perkins may not be polished, and my fear is that he’ll be stuck between 4-5 at the next level when he should really be a 4. But I believe the guy is a competitor who I would want on my team. If a team can work with him to develop skills he is clearly already working on (ball handling, pull ups, 3’s), I could see him providing valuable bench/rotation minutes at the G-League level.
Outstanding questions: 1. Can he be developed to play above rim more?