Oklahoma City Thunder roundtable: Who should start at center, Kendrick Perkins or Steven Adams?

The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Kendrick Perkins.
by Berry Tramel and Darnell Mayberry and Anthony Slater Published: June 15, 2014

The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Kendrick Perkins.

Who should be the starting center next season, Kendrick Perkins or Steven Adams?

Darnell Mayberry, Thunder beat writer: Adams. He’s got too many natural gifts to keep bottled on the bench. He averaged a shade less than 15 minutes in the regular season, and by the year’s end he clearly was deserving of at least 10 more per night. Not only that, but Adams could bring even more balance to the starting five with his athleticism and finishing ability. Of course, he’ll have his share of hurdles. But I have no doubt that the Thunder would be better off come playoff time if they ride with Adams in the first string from the start.

Anthony Slater, Thunder beat writer: Steven Adams. But that’s not as much an indictment on Perk as a clear realization that Adams, at 20, is emerging as one of the league’s best young centers and a building block for OKC. Time to get him into a starting lineup in which he will almost assuredly be a fixture over the next decade.

Berry Tramel, Columnist: Steven Adams, provided he makes the requisite defensive improvement. Adams really came into his own in the postseason. If he continues that kind of progression, he is an effective starting NBA center. But he’s got to play the consistent defense that Kendrick Perkins provides, if he wants to take minutes away from Perk.

How should Scott Brooks handle Perkins’ minutes next season?

Mayberry: Judicially. The Thunder should be past the point of playing Perk just to play him. That means any game that Perkins can ignore his man and pick up point guards the length of the floor is a game that Perkins doesn’t need to play. But when Dwight Howard or Al Jefferson or Tim Duncan or Zach Randolph comes to town, throw Perkins out there and let him do what he does best. Short of that, it’s time to shorten the leash, which Brooks has wisely done with Perk’s minutes in each subsequent season over the past three.

Slater: It’s match and foul dependent. At this point of his career, Perk is basically a specialist. Russell Westbrook calls him the league’s best post defender. So use him exclusively against teams (like the Rockets and Grizzlies) who feature low post scorers. Other than that, keep him planted on the bench, unless Adams gets in early foul trouble, which is bound to happen on more than a few occasions.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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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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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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