Kendrick Perkins has now played in six games for the Thunder. Yes, it seems like he joined the team yesterday, but we've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to what he does for the Thunder. He hasn't been a disappointment per se, but there are times when you want to beat your head against the wall. That being said, he does bring definite advantages that the Thunder have never seen on their own team before. Below are a list of his advantages and disadvantages compared to current and past Thunder players.
What he does well:
-Dominate Smaller Opponents. Nenad Krstic was seven feet tall, but he could never really outsize his opponent. He'd be able to take advantage of centers who just stayed in the paint and take some open mid-range jumpers, but he usually just hit open layups or did a baby hook in the paint. Kendrick Perkins, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. If the other team has the nerve to put in a small lineup (as the Timberwolves did), Perkins can become a very solid offensive option.
-Clog the Paint. This is kind of a broad term, but let me explain. First of all, even though he doesn't play great defense against opposing centers (see below), he does play great defense on opposing guards. If a guard manages to get around Sefolosha or Westbrook, it's quite difficult for them to score in the lane if Kendrick Perkins comes along on help defense.
-Free up Ibaka for Rebounds and Blocks. While his personal rebounding numbers won't blow you away, he does do a good job of getting the opposing team's center out of the way, freeing up Ibaka and other players for quality rebounds. He's also invaluable when opening up space for Ibaka to fly high and block opposing players' shots.
-Set solid screens. Aside from the never-played B.J. Mullens, Perkins is by far the heaviest Thunder player at 275. While that might not mean a lot on the surface, when it comes into getting in someone's way, it can make a big difference. That extra split second he provides on a screen can mean the difference between a sweet swish and a contested clanker.
Below: What he doesn't do so well, More Explanation, Why He's The Thunder's Ticket to the NBA Finals.
What he does not do so well:
-Running the Floor. Even my mom notices the amount of sweat pouring down Kendrick Perkins' chin. I'm not criticizing him for being fat (if he's fat, then I'm Chris Farley), but he is much bigger than the other players, which leaves him looking flatfooted at times. Krstic would get tired, but not as frequently or as early in games as Perkins did.
-Defend. JaVale McGee of the Wizards, Kwame Brown of the Bobcats, Andrea Bargnani of the Raptors, Al Jefferson of the Jazz, and Darko Milicic of the Timberwolves have all scored over their averages against Kendrick Perkins in the six games he's played. The only opponent he's held to under or at their usual average is Erick Dampier, who scored 1 point and averages 2.3. Obviously, some of the above players were only slightly above their averages, but it shows that Kendrick Perkins is average when it comes to post defense, and below average when he has to venture out to the perimeter. But, to put it in perspective, he is a huge improvement over Nick Collison at center in this respect, as Collison is destroyed by post-focused big men (Howard scored 40 on him).
-Shoot. The few times I have seen him shoot a jumpshot, it always looks terrible. It's usually a lazer-like line drive that clanks off of the rim. Granted, these shots have usually come in desperation situations at the end of the shot clock, but there's probably a reason the Thunder don't draw any shooting plays for him.
-Pass. Usually, centers don't need to do that much passing. But everything you need to know about Perkins' handles can be summed up by the alley-oop pass he made to Ibaka. The pass was thrown two feet directly under the basket, and Ibaka unsurprisingly fumbled it out of bounds. 'Nuff said.
If you think that most of his advantages are only there because of his size, and and that most of his disadvantages are there because of lack of general basketball skill, then you're correct. Centers are generally the most poorly skilled players on a basketball team, and those that do have actual skills (on an NBA level) are considered among the greatest. What Kendrick Perkins brings is a tough body down low. He's not a defensive stopper, not a scorer, and not a passer. Sure, he's the easiest player to forget about on the floor, bu that's precisely the point. He's neither asset nor liability. Rather, he's a living, breathing insurance policy in the post that Nenad Krstic could never be. He won't stop Andrew Bynum, but he will provide as a match for him, grab rebounds against him, and open up the lane on offense, allowing things to happen.
If that doesn't resonate with you, then this will. Look at all of the teams that have won the NBA Finals over the past few years. They have either had a good-to dominant center (Bynum, Shaq, David Robinson, Olajuwon), or a center that won't wow you with points and highlight reels, but a tough body that rebounds and creates space. Guys like Ben Wallace, Francisco Elson, Rasho Neterovic, Luc Longley, and Bill Wennington. Oh yeah, and there was this guy named Kendrick Perkins who also fits that bill. But he's not that important.
The long and short of it is that while the Thunder are young and make mistakes, the pieces are finally in place for a championship run. I'm not saying that the Thunder will ever win a championship, or even that half of the roster will make it if the Thunder hoist the trophy in a couple of years. But Sam Presti has successfully turned the Thunder from a gimmicky, flawed team into a team that can last far into the playoffs. Whether they will is a question that's up for debate. But even though Krstic and Green are doing well in Boston, this was the right move to make.
What do you think about the acquisition of Kendrick Perkins six games in? Was it the right move? The Wrong Move? Has he performed well? Vote in the poll, post a comment!