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Kendrick Perkins: “I just got to play better”

by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 6, 2012
Kendrick Perkins is not pleased with his production so far this season.
Kendrick Perkins is not pleased with his production so far this season.

PORTLAND — Everyone these days seems to have a problem with Kendrick Perkins.

Including the man himself.

Perkins thus far has kept quiet about his individual performance. But on Monday morning, seconds after walking off the Rose Garden court following the Oklahoma City Thunder’s shoot-around, the center confessed that he hasn’t played particularly well.

When told he was requested to be interviewed because of his subpar rebounding of late, Perkins cut off the attempt at providing background. He didn’t need to hear any more.

“Man, what else?” Perkins said, suggesting rebounding wasn’t his only issue. “I’m struggling.”

Perkins ranks third on the Thunder in rebounding. But at 5.4 per game, he’s puling down his fewest rebounds since he averaged 5.2 during the 2006-07 season. Perk’s 11.6 percent rebound rate (the percentage of total missed shots a player rebounds) is the worst of his career. Only four centers who have logged enough games and minutes to qualify have a lower rate. In 23 games, Perkins has pulled down less than five rebounds eight times. Perk’s past two performances were grounds to sound the alarm. He grabbed one rebound in 30 minutes against Memphis. He corralled three in 21 minutes against San Antonio. His matchups in those games, Marc Gasol and Tim Duncan, combined to out-rebound him 23-4.

Against Portland center Marcus Camby, Perkins will be matched up tonight against the league’s leader in rebound rate.

“I just got to play better,” Perkins said. “It’s not just the rebounding. My points are down. I’m usually one of the league leaders in field-goal percentage. I just got to play better. It’s nothing else to it. I just got to play better.”

Perkins is shooting a career-low 45.3 percent from the field. Last year, despite not being anywhere near 100 percent as he recovered from knee surgeries, Perkins managed to shoot 49.3 percent in 17 games with the Thunder. He shot 54.2 percent in 12 games with Boston. Perk’s 4.6-point scoring average is his lowest since he averaged just 4.5 in 06-07.

“I don’t know whether it’s my focus or what. But it’s on me,” Perkins said. “I really don’t care about the points. But I do worry about picking up my field goal percentage and my rebounding. I at least need to be at eight a game. So that’s unacceptable.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks, for the most part, has stuck with Perkins, who’s averaging 26.6 minutes, four more than his career average. Brooks has said repeatedly that he doesn’t look at Perk’s stat sheet after games to determine how well or poorly he played.

“Perk’s numbers, I think they can improve and he’ll probably tell you the same thing,” Brooks said. “He does so many other things for us that I don’t really focus on his rebounds.

“I look at our team rebounds more than individuals. I know some guys are up, which is great. I’d like for Perk to rebound more. But, I keep saying it and it’s true with him, he does a lot of things that does not show up. He fights their bigs every night.”

Defensive rebounding, coupled with turnovers, has been the Thunder’s Achilles’ heal this season. OKC has overcome it thus far, compiling a league-best 18-5 record going into Monday’s game against the Blazers. Still, the Thunder yields 12.5 offensive rebounds per game, the fourth most in the league, and it’s an area of concern.

“I’d like all of our guys to get a few more rebounds and take the offensive rebounds that we give up away,” Brooks said. “Until we get that, you’re never really going to be happy with how we rebound.”

Perkins admitted that he does look at his stat sheet. And lately, it hasn’t been pretty.

“It’s frustrating for me when I’m looking at the stats and I’m getting like one or three rebounds,” Perkins said. “I just got to play better. And that’s on me. It ain’t on nobody else. I got to be more productive.”

The road to more productivity, Perkins said, is unclear. For now, Perkins said he’s just trying to find ways to continue impacting games while he struggles.

“The thing is, I never have been in a slump,” Perkins said. “This is my first time being in a slump. I just got to find my way. I figure the only thing I can do is go up from here, though.”

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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