2013-14 Oklahoma City Thunder Player Previews: Kendrick Perkins

USA TODAY Sports

Kendrick Perkins. What shall we do?

(WTLC begins its final preparation for the regular season with our annual player profile previews.  Each player gets a dual analysis as well as a grade of our expectations for each. See the grading scale at the bottom.)

Player KENDRICK PERKINS
Position Center
Year in NBA 11
Nicknames "Yung Hawg"
2012-13 Stats (College) 4.2 PPG,  6.0 RPG, 1.1 AST, 1.4 BLK 1.4 TO
Past Accolades 2008 NBA Champion
Injury History Groin, wrist, knee, ACL
Contract Status $8.5mm

***

Kevin

The much-maligned albatross contract and overall albatross that is considered by most to be holding this team back, Kendrick Perkins does still offer some important things to this team that no other player on the roster offers. It's a safe statement to say that he isn't worth $8.7 million per year, but solid post defense and a 6'10"/280 lbs body does carry value in the NBA.

With a distinct lack of proven centers on their roster, Perkins will be the starter to start. He's a liability when taken out of the paint on defense and offers little in his scoring. If you want to see the bright side of Perkins, it's that he'll throw his weight around under the rim and do his best to make shots in the paint difficult. While it's a less appreciated part of his game, Perk has established himself as a solid passer on offense and can set some really hard screens. Those positive contributions are largely outweighed by his inability to catch the ball, walk without travelling, set a legal screen or put the ball in the basket, but the Thunder are good enough on offense that they can live with Perkins.

Like with last season, small ball lineups will be a large enough theme for the Thunder that Perkins won't see more than 25 minutes per game, which is probably for the best. Also of note is that young and exciting rookie Steven Adams got have a legit shot at a spot in the rotation after his outstanding preseason, which could take away from Perkins' minutes as well. Adams isn't quite the beefy center that Perk is, but he's no softie either and being able to alternate between Perk and Adams could be a nice option for the Thunder.

What happens with Perk this season could be an interesting subplot to the Thunder's season. He's a trade candidate, but he could just as easily be a mainstay in the starting lineup as he has been for years past. There'll be a lot of slander, and some of it will be warranted. Hopefully we'll get more of the positives, and if he can throw in things like explosiveness and an improved scoring touch we'll gladly take it.

Grade_c_medium

***

Sherman

It is getting more and more difficult to defend Perkins these days, but I will try.

Ever since arriving in OKC, Perkins has been about the team's identity. Once they were soft, now they are hardened, playoff-tested veterans. Once they were confused, now they play aggressive and intelligently. Once their starting center was Nenad Krstic.

Perkins is still about all of those things, but the problem is that, aside from all of Perk's limitations, he's still a 2008 kind of player trying to play a 2013 kind of game. With Westbrook, Durant, and Ibaka running all over the court trying to get in and out of sets and breaks quickly, Perkins becomes the bottleneck that gums everything up. His identity as a starting center is waning.

Which is not to say he no longer has value. He does. His value though is most recognized at this point with the 2nd unit. Consider all of the question marks we have about OKC - one of the biggest is the collective youth of their bench players, including Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III, and now Steven Adams. Those are the guys who need a smart veteran player along side them, helping them work through sets, giving them good screens, telling them when they screw up, and picking them up when they struggle. This is the perfect place for Perkins to be, a place where his assets are recognized instead of his deficiencies acting as an anchor.

We will once again see Perkins as the starting center, but as the season goes along, let us watch and see how Scott Brooks adjusts his team so that both first and second units are maximized. Perkins' value on the 2nd unit is considerable. Let us hope the team evolves and recognizes what they do have.

Grade_c_medium

***

A Player has exceedingly high expectations attainable only if they play to their fullest ability.
B Player has reasonably high expectations that are attainable.
C
Player has moderate expectations which should be met with little trouble.
D
Player has moderate expectations but will struggle to meet them.
F
Player should not be on the Thunder roster.
X
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