Brooklyn Nets Training Camp: Reggie Perry Makes Right First Impression

Reggie Perry has first impressions covered in Brooklyn.

It may take a while for the rookie big man to get DeAndre Jordan to refer to him by name, but the Nets’ veteran center likes the way Perry has jumped into things with himself and Jarrett Allen among the group of centers.

“Man, I love Rook,” said Jordan after Thursday’s practice. “I love what he's doing, he's a tough player, no fear out there, very strong guy, skill player that can shoot the basketball so just to be able to battle against him, JA, and Nic (Claxton) when he's on the floor healthy it gets all of us better. We've had some heated battles between all of us but it's not anything that's negative or detrimental to practice it's all about us getting better. We challenge each other every single day so that's great. Rook has done a great job, he's a great listener, he's actually working right now so just to be able to have somebody around who is a young player that wants to soak up all that knowledge and work as hard as he can. It's great to have someone like that on our team.”

A day earlier, veteran forward Jeff Green singled out Perry when asked which of the Nets younger players had impressed him so far in training camp.

“He’s a young kid who works very, very hard, who knows the game of basketball,” said Green. “Who can, honestly, it’s hard with the rotation that we have here, down the line in his career, I think he’ll be able to play multiple positions as well. He’s very talented, I didn’t watch – outside of watching my Georgetown – I didn’t watch much college basketball. I never watched him in college. But watching him out there on the floor, he looks pretty good.”

As Jordan referenced, there is a crowd at the center spot for Brooklyn, and it doesn’t get much thinner at forward. There’s Jordan, the veteran with the All-NBA resume, and Allen, who, though he’s just two years older than Perry, has three seasons and 222 NBA games behind him. Plus there’s Claxton, drafted last year in the second round.

Filling things out from a mentorship perspective is new assistant coach Amar’e Stoudemire, an All-NBA forward as well while teaming with Nets head coach Steve Nash in Phoenix. It was all enough that Perry needed to gather himself a bit the first time he walked into the gym.

“This experience is what I look for,” said Perry. “Coming into the NBA, one of my wishes was just to be around great players, Hall of Famers and great teammates and stuff like that. It’s been great.”

The Nets nabbed Perry on draft night as part of a three-team trade that included the Pistons and Clippers. Brooklyn originally held the 55th pick, which went to LA, while the Clippers selected Perry 57th overall. The expansive trade also sent Brooklyn’s No. 19 pick to Detroit, so news broke earlier in the night and Perry heard from the Nets right away that he was Brooklyn-bound.

A few days after the trade became official, Nets GM Sean Marks offered his take on Perry.

“Obviously, he’s a big man out there with a forceful nature and, as you mentioned, he can be able to step out on the floor as well as play in the post,” said Marks. “We had him much higher on our board, and to be able to have a guy like that in with us, I look forward to seeing him develop.”

Marks wasn’t the only one. Multiple mock drafts had Perry going in the first half of the second round, rather than three spots from the end. ESPN, for one, had Perry at No. 42 in its final mock, released on the day of the draft.

A McDonald’s All-American out of his Georgia high school in 2018, Perry played two seasons at Mississippi State, where he was the SEC Co-Player of the Year after averaging 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and shooting 50 percent last season. Along the way, he earned MVP honors at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Championship in the summer of 2019 while leading USA Basketball to the gold medal.

“He’s a modern 5 in many respects,” said Nash of the 6-foot-10, 250-pound big man. “Fortunately for Reggie’s development, as a developmental player, he can stretch the floor with a 3 and he also can make players for his teammates, so he’s got a lot of skills and attributes that allow him that versatility to be a small-ball 5 in the modern game.”

The speed and pace of the game is the most significant adjustment for Perry, but he’s diving in to get in the flow of things.

“Just staying ready, staying in the gym, staying locked in,” said Perry. “I’m watching film, learning from what they’re doing on the court. So really just staying locked in and just staying ready for my name to be called, and at the same time, just being a good teammate.”