Grading Kendrick Perkins’ 2013-14 season.
Post defense: B. There’s a long list of stars Perkins slowed or flat out shut down this season: DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Favors, Tim Duncan, Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard. There’s also a list of others that Perk got torched by: Nikola Pekovic. LaMarcus Aldridge, Joakim Noah. You can’t win ’em all. But Perk gave it a go. Can’t fault him when great offense wins over good defense. It happens. But Perkins was as steady as they come in the post. He held opponents to 34 percent shooting in the post and 25.9 percent shooting on isolations, according to Synergy Sports data. In those same situations, Defensive Player of the Year winner Joakim Noah this season yielded 40.7 percent and 38.5 percent.
Rebounding: C. The dip in raw production in this area coincided with the dip in Perk’s minutes. He averaged nearly six less minutes than he did a year ago, and largely because of that his rebounds per game fell from six to 4.9. But it was quietly one of Perk’s better seasons on the glass. He averaged 9.1 boards per 36 minutes and finished with a rebounding percentage of 14.2 percent, his highest totals since his debut season with the Thunder. Unable to get off the ground like he once did, Perk also is focusing more on boxing out his man so a teammate can get the rebound. With all that being said, you never want your starting center to rank fourth on the team in rebounding, especially when No. 2 and No. 3 is the small forward and point guard.
Postseason: B. Perk bounced back great from last year’s disappointing postseason. He was a defensive presence in the post, an improved rebounder and, at times, a surprisingly reliable source of offense, mostly in the Memphis series. With matchups that were tailor made for him, Perkins became one of the most pivotal players on the Thunder’s roster in the playoffs due to his ability to defend Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in one round, DeAndre Jordan in the next and Tim Duncan in the West Finals. He wasn’t always succeed. But more often than not, Perk made most of his matchups work much harder for everything they got.
Turnovers: D. Despite averaging nearly six fewer minutes than he did a year ago, Perkins averaged more turnovers. He finished with 1.5 turnovers per game in only 19.5 minutes a night. His 2.7 turnovers per 36 minutes marked his most in a Thunder uniform and tied him for third most among centers that appeared in at least 50 games. For a player who handles the ball as little as Perkins does, that rate is way too high. But he gave away possessions by making bad passes, suffering from drops, traveling violations and illegal screens. Much of that can be cleaned up.
Professionalism: A. Say what you will about Perkins. But one thing you can’t call him is a cancer. He couldn’t have handled Steven Adams’ arrival and his subsequent minutes crunch any better. Not once did the outspoken center publicly complain about his shrinking role. Even when he was benched in the second half at Miami, he put out a positive message in support of the team. It might not sound like much, but one over-inflated ego can ruin an NBA locker room. Perk did a great job not letting his ego compromise the team’s success.