Josh Perkins was one of the unsung heroes of this past season. By his history within much of the fanbase, his growth will go relatively unnoticed, and that is a shame.
The stats are anything particularly exciting compared to some of the bigger names in college basketball. Perkins finished the season averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 assists per game. Most importantly, his turnovers dipped down just enough as his usage increased. As the primary ball handler for the Zags, and really the only option, Perkins was the efficient offensive distributor the Zags needed this season.
Perkins ability to distribute this season was a marvel in college basketball. He was one of 10 players in the nation who averaged at least 5.0 assists per game and turned the ball over less than 2.1 times per game. That lowered turnover rate, combined with a stellar three-point percentage to open the year, allowed Perkins to post his highest offensive rating of his collegiate career at 119.0.
What is even more impressive is Perkins did all of this averaging nearly 33 minutes per game. Unlike last season, when Perkins was on the court this year, he was the only option for running the offense. Perkins’ ability to be a good floor general was a bit in question coming into the season. He struggled with this facet of the game in his first full season. Last season, Nigel Williams-Goss and Perkins shared point duties, but NWG seemed to end up with the ball in his hand more of the time.
Going into this season, no one quite knew what to expect from Perkins, but he rebounded and proved everyone wrong. He seemingly learned from his flashy mistakes this season. He was willing to feed the ball to the hot hand, but also rarely saw a three point opportunity he didn’t like.
It cannot be stressed how important Perkins’ play was for the Zags this season. Gonzaga had a plethora of guards this season, but none of them were true point guards. Zach Norvell and Silas Melson were always capable of bringing the ball up the floor, but the offense visibly stagnated this season when Perkins was getting some breathing room on the bench.
If there was one knock you could make on Perkins this year, it was that his three-point shot, which was so perfect the entire season, disappeared as the season ended. During conference play, he shot 42 percent from long range. During the WCC tournament and the NCAA Tournament, that dropped to 16.6 percent.
He did step up the other aspects of his game, however. Perkins averaged a shade over 2.1 turnovers per game during the regular season. During the conference and NCAA Tournaments, that number dropped to 1.6 turnovers per game. In fact, during the postseasons, Perkins posted an assist to turnover ratio of 3.6:1.
Next year, like this season, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will go as far as Perkins can take them. The Zags are picking up the services of Greg Foster Jr., who, if ready, can help spell Perkins at the point a bit of time. Hopefully, Jesse Wade can join the point party as well.
Even if neither of those players are ready to contribute as much as the fanbase, or the coaching staff, would like, this season, Perkins demonstrated he can be relied upon to win.