Kendrick Perkins: Oklahoma City’s silent catalyst

BY ALEX ROSE, syndication 

Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins may not impress in the box scores, but his team play is a big factor for the Thunder in the NBA playoffs. Photo by: PeggyDavis66 / Flickr

The day after each Oklahoma City Thunder game, the dedicated fan will grab their morning coffee and take a peak at the boxscore to see how many points Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored.  They look to see how many blocks Serge Ibaka swatted. Maybe Durant and Westbrook combined for a massive 70 points (accomplished twice this season), or maybe Ibaka added another double-digit block game to his stash.   However, when you come across Kendrick Perkins‘ name, the numbers look insufficient at best.  For his career, Perkins has averaged a quiet 6.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 1.4 BPG.  As a member of the Thunder, his numbers seem even more anemic as he averaged just 5.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.1 BPG in 65 games this year.

However, basketball is a game in which teamwork is hard to measure. There is no statistic that measures a player’s willingness to help their teammates succeed by doing the little things on the court.  There is no statistic that measures the extra pass on the perimeter for the open 3-pointer when the defense is late to rotate.  There is no measure that communicates how important a box-out can be so that a teammate can secure a tough rebound in the paint.  Baseball is a game in which statistics can tell the whole story of a particular game.  Teamwork is much less important.  The major league baseball player is essentially left to his own skills when stepping into the batter’s box.  

But, any Thunder fan that has followed the team since the acquisition of Perkins has seen the heavy impact that he has made on the court.  Kendrick was acquired during the 2010-2011 season through a trade with the Boston Celtics on March 14.  Since that time, the Thunder are 60-23.  There’s no question that Perkins makes his contributions on the defensive end of the floor.  He is the anchor to that defense, and is the only post player that can match up with the opposing team’s center. Ibaka may be able to hold his own, but his lower body strength leaves something to be desired. Perkins serves as the director of the defensive orchestra.

Most importantly, Perkins has brought a championship attitude to this Thunder team.  As a member of the 2007-2008 championship Celtics, he has learned what it take to grind through the playoffs.  If a team wants to win an NBA championship, they must have that player with a cutthroat attitude.  It is easy to see that he has relayed this message to the rest of the team.  I’ll use Durant as an example. During a previous game against the L.A. Lakers, Kobe Bryant was attempting a break away drive to the hoop.  Durant chased him down from behind and gave him a hard foul while denying the attempted shot.  After Kobe hit the deck,  KD didn’t help his a former idol; he simply walked away.  It is this type of culture change that makes a team worthy of championship basketball.

Perkins and the Thunder play the Lakers tonight in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals.  If they close the series out tonight, they will have a matchup with the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Finals.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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