Josh Perkins is a 6’3” redshirt senior lead guard for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The school’s all-time leader in assists was recently named one of five finalists (along with Markus Howard, Ja Morant, Tremont Waters, and Cassius Winston) for the Bob Cousy Award, which honors the nation’s top point guard. Perkins, a former top sixty high school recruit out of national powerhouse Huntington Prep, has been a full-time starter in all four of his post-redshirt seasons, logging 139 starts and accumulating nearly 4,500 minutes of playing time. He has been a consistent force in leading Gonzaga to its winningest four year stretch in school history. Though he hasn’t gotten the same NBA Draft buzz as some of his teammates, Perkins is an interesting prospect in his own right, and will look to prove himself to NBA decision-makers as he leads the Bulldogs in his final crack at a potential NCAA championship.
Tale of the Tape
Reading the Defense
Perkins is as seasoned a lead ball-handler as you’ll find in college basketball, and this valuable experience has molded him into a high-level reader of defenses.
Perkins is averaging a career-high 6.7 assists per game on a career low 1.9 turnovers per game this season, making him one of the most reliable court generals among draft-eligible prospects. On possessions ending in a Perkins shot attempt, drawn shooting foul, assist, or turnover this season, Gonzaga is converting at a 1.494 PPP clip, ranking in the 99th percentile. Though his individual scoring numbers in and of themselves don’t jump off the page, Perkins’ facilitation presence is a key catalyst in Gonzaga’s number one ranked scoring offense.
Perkins savvy basketball IQ makes him a natural at leading the fast break. Gonzaga ranks in the 99th percentile by converting at a 1.677 PPP clip in Perkins-led transition possessions, all on a 5.0 AST/TO ratio. Despite not being lighting fast from an end-to-end straight-line speed perspective, Perkins excels at demanding outlet passes, pushing the pace to create odd-man advantages, and making the correct reads to ensure a clean, efficient look.
In the half-court, Perkins makes just as, if not more, impressive reads as a pick-and-roll initiator. Though not the most gifted at creating for himself after receiving a high-ball screen, he is elite at reading both his defender, the helping big’s coverage, taggers of roll men, and weak side coverage. As soon as he sees the opposition react, he takes advantage of any over-rotation or overcommitment by zipping a pass to the open man before the defense has a chance to recover. In 351 Perkins-initiated pick-and-roll possessions resulting in a Perkins shot attempt, drawn shooting foul, assist, or turnover this season, Gonzaga ranks in the 91st percentile by converting at a 1.068 PPP clip.
In the clip below, we highlight Perkins’ natural feel as a creator for others as he makes high-level reads to pick apart opposing defenses.
Gonzaga holds a record of 130-17 in games where Perkins has taken the court, which serves as a testament to his ability to contribute to winning as the lead handler alongside other talent NBA-caliber players. His decision-making and facilitation for others project as his most translatable skills.
Perkins has positional size in college (especially in the WCC), but would be about average size amongst NBA lead guards. With not particularly explosive athleticism, Perkins will need to rely on craft, timing, and technique to translate adequately as a finisher. Though this isn’t a surefire bonafide strength for Perkins, it is certainly one of his swing skills with respect to his NBA translatability.
Perkins’ role at Gonzaga has never been that of a primary scorer or shot creator, and he will likely fill a similar role at the professional level. He is a very capable catch-and-shoot threat when playing off-ball, but as a modern lead guard he will need defenders to respect his threat of scoring off-the-dribble. He has improved as a finisher by learning to make functional use of his facilitation threat to finesse his way to creative, crafty opportunities for himself.
Perkins has made strides throughout his career and learned to find unconventional ways to provide scoring in addition to his facilitation acumen. Perkins has added goofy-foot layups, reverses with English, and high-arcing layups over taller defenders to his scoring arsenal. The goofy-foot layups serve as a means to make up for his lack of vertical explosiveness by using unorthodox timing and footwork to throw rim protectors off of their normal gather timing. On reverse layups, Perkins again finds a way to make up for any vertical athletic disadvantage by getting to the other side of the rim and using it as protection to shield against block attempts. The high-arcing layups add another layer to his situational finishing repertoire.
In the clip below, we highlight Perkins’ flashes in catching defenders off guard with deception, timing, and craft on layups.
These flashes are promising, but Perkins only grades out as an average finisher at the rim and on runners/floaters. He will need to continue to improve on these types of finishes and continue to ramp up his versatility as a finisher at the rim and as a mid-range pull-up threat to project as a multi-level scorer in the pros.
In Mark Few’s tenure, Gonzaga has seen a progressive increase in professional-caliber talent. The four Gonzaga graduates in the NBA all happen to be bigs, but there have been a handful of lead guards that have spent some time in the NBA, G League, and overseas. While John Stockton is certainly the outlier as an all-time NBA great, the likes of Jeremy Pargo, David Stockton, and Nigel Williams-Goss have all parlayed their collegiate success at Gonzaga into respective shots at professional basketball careers.
Though Perkins may be unlikely to hear his name called on draft night, he has a shot at a two-way contract with a strong NBA Summer League showing. If the stars don’t align for an immediate shot at the NBA, Perkins projects to follow in the footsteps of Williams-Goss (currently with Greek powerhouse Olympiacos) and carve out a fruitful European career.
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