Will Thunder Miss Perkins Or Not?

The Thunder are losing one of their vocal leaders in Kendrick Perkins. (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Thunder are losing one of their vocal leaders in Kendrick Perkins. (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images)

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – That’s one way to get Kendrick Perkins out of the lineup. Analytics faithful have long called for him to sit and so, too, has a growing segment of the league’s friendliest fans.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s 6-foot-10, 280-pound brute is probably more renowned now for his imposing scowl than for his imposing, no-holds-barred approach that helped the Celtics win one title and might have cost them another when an injury forced him out of Game 7 against the Lakers in 2010.

On Tuesday, the Thunder announced Perkins will miss up to six weeks after undergoing surgery on his left groin, an injury that occurred in the third quarter of Thursday’s loss to the Miami Heat. On Sunday, the Thunder lost again to the Los Angeles Clippers, and afterwards Perkins’ former coach Doc Rivers couldn’t help but give Perkins some good-natured ribbing.

The Clippers torched the Thunder for 72 points in the first half with 27 coming on the fastbreak. Rivers was asked if OKC missed Perkins’ defense considering the plodding center probably wouldn’t have been much help chasing Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan down the floor.

“He was good for us,” Rivers said regarding Perkins in those Boston days. “That was in his younger days when he ran the 40 [yard dash] in 4.5 [seconds], I think. Now he might run it in 44.5, but I’m not sure — maybe 50, I don’t know.”

Rivers got a good chuckle out of it, but will the Thunder and their fans be laughing without the polarizing big man to pick on? Here’s Rivers again, this time being a bit more serious about the less visible impact Perkins has on his team.

“Where he helps you, even if it’s not that [in transition], he’s a voice that tells you you’re not getting back,” Rivers said. “People don’t understand how important those voices are when you have a guy talking your defense, holding people accountable, you miss that. They missed that [Sunday].”

The Thunder will likely replace Perkins in the starting lineup with impressive, 7-foot, 250-pound rookie Steven Adams, 20, a raw talent, but a physical player and a hustler. Veteran Nick Collison will likely see a bump in minutes and rising, two-way power forward Serge Ibaka will likely see more time at center in smaller lineups.

Like Rivers, Thunder coach Scott Brooks has long praised Perkins for delivering the less-heralded, but necessary aspects of the game like hard-nosed defense and bone-jarring screens that spring Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and others for open looks.

Durant, too, has always had his teammate’s back.

“He’s one of those guys that sacrifice and puts it all on the line for his team,” Durant said of Perkins prior to this season as the 11th-year center returned from hefty criticism following last year’s second-round loss to Memphis. “He’s a guy that I go to war with every single night and a brother for life, so I’m behind him 110 percent.”

But by any metric it becomes increasingly difficult to defend Perkins’ 19.7 mpg, which ranks as his lowest in the last eight seasons. His inclusion against smaller, quicker lineups such as the Heat is even harder to defend. Perkins is averaging 3.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg and is shooting 44.2 percent, low for a player who attempts nearly 80 percent of his shots from within eight feet.

The Thunder’s offensive efficiency is 102.7 points per 100 possessions with Perkins on the floor and it soars to 110.1 with him off. Their defensive efficiency barely fluctuates with him on or off the floor.

The Thunder traded for Perkins in February 2011 believing they’d need him for years to come to battle the Los Angeles Lakers’ frontcourt combo of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Obviously that didn’t last and utilizing smaller lineups has become the trend throughout the league.

OKC’s regular starting lineup of Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka and Perkins has played 287 minutes together with an offensive rating of 96.7 and a defensive rating of 104.2. The likely new starting lineup with Adams replacing Perkins has played 82 minutes together with an offensive rating of 100.4 and a defensive rating that nose dives off the chart at 122.0.

Numbers are meaningful, but can also be interpreted in different ways when comparing lineup combinations. All we can do now is watch the games and try to determine if the Thunder indeed miss Perkins’ nearly 20 minutes a game, or if he’s really been more of a hindrance all along.

29 Comments

  1. Bermir says:

    And now they are 0-4 without him…

  2. kenny says:

    hopefully they will finally amnesty him they needed to 2 years ago

  3. Dom says:

    Perkins is a on and off low post defender. He may school some other big men at rare times but other than that, OKC will miss his defensive presence

  4. lol says:

    Now THunder will get the title, Perkins was the weak link in the roster now that he is out THunder will pwn hard

  5. MELO4LIFE says:

    SEE YA NEXT YEAR PERK!

  6. dustydreamnz says:

    $9 million? I’m speechless. I’m from NZ so I could be a bit biased but at draft time I wasn’t expecting Adams to get picked 12th and to be honest on his play so far he has looked like the 12th pick. He was picked for the future but has surprised a lot of people in his homeland.

  7. vinsanefan says:

    Shoot, now that Perkins is injured Scott Brooks will finally realize that Perkins is the only thing holding back the Thunder. I was hoping this would never happen.

  8. bouljhit says:

    lol, miss perkins. ok it’s a joke.

  9. jake s. says:

    I agree with basedonstats. We need perk but he shouldn’t start or get his large contract.

  10. okc2014 says:

    I think the only ones who will miss Perkins are his teammates. I think the Thunder should have dealt w/ Perkins (waive him!) and Shefelosha a while ago and they chose not to. So here we are.

  11. lakerslakerslakers says:

    if granger becomes available, thunder better get on that.

  12. Mark says:

    The small ball style that Miami plays isn’t going to take the O.K.C to a the Championship! The team outside of K.Durant just isn’t a reliable enough scoring team to win the Finals! We all know this. Even with R.Westbrook & S.Ibaka at their best offensively in & around the paint, they haven’t got it outside! Also I don’t think anything they do from here on defensively will bring them to the level that Miami or Indiana has.
    This is an opportunity for Scott Brooks (not only to keep himself in contention for future coaching jobs) but to give Steven Adams (the Rookie) a chance & let him go at it a bit… & I mean Offensively! Let him be the secondary to Serge Ibaka on Defense!
    Otherwise ..in the West I really like a healthy G.S.W

  13. hdsnake867 says:

    The Thunder will miss Perkins? No Way!!! The guy is a dud. They should amnesty his contract. Steven Adams is the future in OKC.

  14. jdub455 says:

    Dey nid him against teams wid big strong centers lyk hou, min, mem, ind, etc. Of course against fast teams, his useless, lyk against miami, gsw… but dey will nt b d same team without dis guy come playoffs time. Dey nid him.

  15. squala96 says:

    Like Thabo, Perkins is useless offensively, yet both these guys are in the starting lineup. He is also too slow and compensates his defense by being brutal to the guys he’s guarding. He’s not even 30 yet, but he plays as if he is almost retiring. For some reason, Scott has faith in this guy and as a result, Adams cannot start as he should have. Kendrick only has a ring as his swagger, and that’s not helping OKC’s motivation anymore especially since Fisher re-joined the team.

  16. Jay carter says:

    Perkins is not worth the $9 million hes getting. He still has 2 years left on his contract. I would amnesty perkins & start the rookie. Off season get a role playing big man off the bench that can rotate and pertect the rim. And at least someone who can finsh 3 feet from the rim. Kind of like a bird man for miami.

  17. BasedonStats says:

    Start the rook. Don’t dump Perkins though. Leadership and glue guy. You need that.

  18. sirsparhawk says:

    No they wont miss perkins, he is useless in every sense of the word. He literally is the worst offensive player in the league, his defense isnt worth noting, at best he is there to foul players. Ive been hoping they would cut him loose for awhile now.

  19. dustydreamnz says:

    Agree with Bart, Perkins has no offense, too slow, bad hands.
    At last Steven Adams gets his chance to become a starter and prove he should be starting. If he avoids foul trouble he’ll be fine. If he had been starting all season I believe he would be in the top 5 rookies by now.

  20. bart smith says:

    The reason the Thunders have been doing lousy specially in playoff series is because Scott keep using Perkins as a starter. Arguably, they lost to the Heat because Perkins is more than obviously too slow to rotate. They should have dump him long time ago. I can understand his defensive intensity helps. But let’s face the hard cold fact, he is a liability in offense and his defense help cannot overcome the offensive weakness.

    • Pakyaw says:

      Heat is on east, why they worry about them..they need him for a team like clips,rockets and spurs..

      • sirsparhawk says:

        No they dont, Perkins cant stop dwight or DJ or blake, he cant do anything because he is so slow, cant score, and is too short to actually defend properly.

      • Pakyaw says:

        Did you say he’s too short?..lol!..basically you don’t need a quick feet to guard a post player, unless he’s Hakeem Olajuwon ..

      • kek says:

        sirsparhawk Last time the thunder played the rockets he killed dwight on the block, dwight couldnt score on him, perk is by far one the best post defenders in the nba. but thats pretty much all he is good at right now.

      • hahahaha these guys are funny…perkins can’t defend and can’t score…why need him on a team? cuz of his “defensive intensity”? which is all screaming? he can’t even rotate on defense! LOL!

    • LakersWillWin says:

      Yeah, they will miss him! He brings championship pedigree and a “Nasty” edge teams require to take it all the way! Him and D.Fish are under-rated as leaders on that team and bring a lot more than people see in the stats.

    • Vlad says:

      u call nba finals and conference finals lousy? :)))
      (you can’t take the into consideration the season where Westbrook got injuredin the 1st round)