The Oklahoma City Thunder have one of the best teams in the NBA. They are led by two of the best guard/forwards in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Not only are they among the best guards in the NBA, they also are among the top three duos in the NBA.
They have that one lock down defender in Thabo Sefolosha that can also knock down the spot up three pointer. At power forward, Serge “Iblocka” Ibaka steps over to block or contest anything at the rim and is steadily improving his fifteen foot jumper. They have won over 67% of their games in the past three seasons and Loud City is experiencing some memorable years of basketball from this talented squad.
As you can see, I only named four of the starters in the Oklahoma City Thunder. That one blank is Kendrick Perkins. Watch an Oklahoma City Thunder game. Sometimes, you literally forget Perkins is on the floor. Well, that is until he fouls or seems to make a face that gives you a feeling that he just may kill someone.
Perkins came over from the Celtics after winning a title. He was known as the guy that could give a team all those things that just don’t show up on the stat sheet. The qualities include words such as strength, fight, hustle, fearlessness and a will to win. The Thunder had high hopes for Perkins as a bruiser and enforcer in the paint to cancel out any front court players on the opposing team just as he did in Boston. Perkins is fearless, and definitely a big body. Well, let me rephrase that. Perkins was a big body. Coming into this past season, Perkins came out in better shape than he had been in his entire career. Often times I am watching the game and I get him and Ibaka confused. He lost a lot of weight and it was obvious that he had been working hard over the offseason.
Kendrick made strides during the 2013 season. He was definitely a more durable body for the Thunder as he played 78 games compared to 65 in 2012. However, 2013 did not present many more strides for Perkins outside of his weight and games played. His numbers in 2013 are very similar to his statistics in his previous 2 seasons in Oklahoma City but I think it’s time we expect more out of the champion. His field goal percentage dropped as well as his points and rebounds per game. Honestly, this is not a surprise. Perkins came to Oklahoma City with the purpose to improve their defense. With the help of Ibaka and the ball pressure of Westbrook, I can say he has done pretty well at improving the defensive mindset in OKC. The Thunder were top 10 in 2013 in points allowed.
Perkins still needs to give Scott Brooks and the Thunder a little more. Perkins really is not the most gifted on the offensive end. He can’t catch the ball on the block, put a move on his defender and score, or even get the opposing front court in foul trouble. Just to be able to say that Perkins is a threat on the floor would be a blessing for the Thunder.
The Thunder do not have a front court player that they can consistently throw the ball down to on the block and expect a basket or even draw a double team to free others. The way Perkins produced last season, I think that OKC should have questions and find solutions to ways that Perkins can be used effectively. One way may be to trade or amnesty Perkins. Another option could be to cut down on Perkins minutes and spread the floor like most of the NBA is beginning to do. The last option would be for Perkins to work this offseason and improve himself. We would love for him to be more than a guy on the floor who basically just gets in foul trouble. A productive Perkins could help take such a heavy burden off of guys like Durant and Westbrook. A majority of the burden will definitely remain on their backs, but it would be great for Kendrick to carry some weight as well.
This upcoming season I hope Perkins looks to continue to do things that don’t particularly show up on the stat sheet as well as filling in the stat sheet to help the Thunder pursue their title.