Perkins compared Sefolosha to a more athletic Bruce Bowen, whose dogged defense helped San Antonio secure three championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Sefolosha, who also can take a fair amount of credit for holding Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to 17 points on 8-for-22 shooting this season, said his most significant weapon is being aware of what the opposing team is trying to run and taking away that option.
Sefolosha will stick his nose in the passing lane. Body up on the block. Chase his man across the court and fight through screens relentlessly. Anything to disrupt a team's set. He wants to make players make tough passes and make his man take tough shots.
Sefolosha prides himself on doing his work early. That means he'll rather deny his man the ball instead of allowing him to catch it and have to rely on defending a deadly offensive player. Or, rather than letting a Wade or Bryant start their attack from a sweet spot, Sefolosha aims to play physical and force them to catch the ball from just beyond their comfort zones.
What Perkins admires most about Sefolosha, though, is how he supplies defense effectively without needing much for himself.
“He's a guy who brings value to the court without it really showing up in the stat sheet,” Perkins said. “He's a huge part of why we're a great defensive team.”
Imagine what Perkins might have thought of Sefolosha had he seen him last season, before a January knee injury derailed his defensive dominance. That setback, much like Sefolosha's overall impact, has been largely overlooked all year when evaluating Sefolosha.
Except by those who have paid attention.
“He plays through everything,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “When you're guarding the best players, you're fighting through screen after screen after screen. You're getting bumped and Charley horses. You're getting back-picked. You're getting multiple picks, and big guys are setting them.
“He plays every game like his body is feeling great. The toughness he brings to our team, it's hard not to appreciate.”