The Oklahoman's staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Kendrick Perkins.
1. How would you rate Kendrick Perkins' season?
Darnell Mayberry: Wildly erratic. He had some great stretches, slowing down top notch post scorers like Kevin Garnett, Al Jefferson and Dwight Howard. But then Perk would turn in some duds, with disappointing nights like those nightmarish performances against Minnesota big man Nikola Pekovic. But in the regular season, Perk did more good than bad. His problems didn't truly start until after the All-Star break, when he averaged fewer points and assists while turning it over at a higher rate and shooting considerably worse from the field and foul line. He never could stop that snowball.
John Rohde: Regular season was solid, but postseason was soft and gooey. As is always the case, his success depends on the opposing center and who Perkins is defending. Truthfully, I don't know how much Russell Westbrook's injury impacted Perkins' offense, but it was atrocious against Memphis.
Berry Tramel: Season? Solid. Perkins anchors the Thunder defense, which was clearly improved over last season. OKC ended up fourth in team defensive efficiency. The Thunder also got better offensively, so Perkins didn't weigh down the post-James Harden Thunder. But in the Memphis series, Perkins played so poorly on offense, it was hard to justify using him on defense. Houston was a bad matchup for Perk, so Scotty Brooks should have curtailed his playing time. But OKC needed Perkins versus Memphis, and though his defense remained solid, the offense was an atrocity.
2. Is the Thunder overvaluing Perkins' impact at this point?
Mayberry: Publicly, yes. If you're buying what the team is selling. But we should all be well beyond the point of believing what the Thunder says in this regard. The wiser move is analyzing what the team does. And this year Perkins played the fewest minutes on average that he's ever played in a Thunder uniform. That average also dipped for the third straight postseason. So while the team supports him with its statements, Perk's dwindling minutes in the stat sheet have become a better reflection of the team's impression of his impact.
Rohde: Just about every big man in the NBA is overvalued, hence overpaid. Perkins is a key defensive piece on an elite team at $8.5 million next season. That seems like a lot of money until you try to find someone who plays better defense for less.
Tramel: Depends on which Perkins. Regular season Perk, no. Postseason Perk, yes. Someone that bad on offense can only be a situational player. But Perk was not a liability to the offense during the regular season. He stayed out of the way, helped free Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and OKC prospered.
3. How would you like to see Perkins used next season?
Mayberry: Exactly how Scott Brooks used him in the postseason, situationally. When there's a big man that warrants Perk's presence, trot him out there. When the opposing team lacks a low-post threat, no more fooling around with Perk picking up point guards the length of the court just to have him out there.
Rohde: Coach Scott Brooks must be quicker to pull the trigger when deciding to go small. Perk might play 30 minutes in some games, but 10 minutes in other games. Offensively, Perk needs a complete overhaul. He should shoot at least 55 percent from the field, so he either needs to make a lot more shots or take far fewer attempts — or both.
Tramel: Less. Perkins averaged 25.1 minutes a game. His previous two seasons in OKC, he averaged 26.8 and 25.2 minutes. That's about how the Celtics used Perkins. Going back, he averaged 26.1, 25.6, 27.6, 29.6 and 24.5 minutes per game. That final figure is from the 2008 NBA title team. But the game is changing. Teams are using fewer big men. Perkins' minutes fell to 19.1 in this postseason. That needs to continue.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Thunder general manager Sam Presti: “We think Perk has a lot of value to our team. He's a member of a team that won 60 games and helped us to our third division title in three years. I don't know that we can discount that.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks: “He's somewhat of an easy target because of his stats. He's never going to be a statistical guy. He brings toughness. He brings experiences. He brings things that help you win. He makes winning basketball plays. Did he have good moments in the playoffs? He had some. He had some not so good. What he does with our team, he helps us win games. When we had everybody whole he was a big part of what we do. Going forward, I expect that to be the same.”
Thunder forward Nick Collison: “He's a big part of what we do. First of all just with the roster, he anchors us, gives us a center. He's a guy that can guard the biggest guys in the league. If we don't have him, you've got to find someone else to do it. I think he doesn't get a lot of credit for the things he does well. I think we love him. We know how important he is to us. We know we couldn't have the success we've had without him. I guess I'll leave it at that.”
Hall of Famer and TNT analysts Charles Barkley: “No disrespect to Kendrick Perkins, but I think that they should play more small ball … He is not scoring and there's no dominant big man for him to lock down. So if he's not going to dominate on the boards or score down low he's just ineffective.”
Boston coach Doc Rivers: “You look at his numbers and a lot of times you'll say, ‘What does he do?' I can tell you. A lot. He's a great player to have on your team when you have great players on your team, because he knows what to tell them and he backs them up. It's good to have an instigator, and I think we can put Perk strongly in the instigator category. That's why I love him.”