The Oklahoma City Thunder are a young team that has seemed like their destined to make a deep run in the NBA playoffs from the onset of this season. Anchored by their two stars, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and enjoying the emergence of Serge Ibaka, the Thunder have talent all over their roster.
However, if you were to point out the obvious weakness in their roster, your eyes would immediately fixate on Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City’s starting center. With all of the productive players on their roster, Perkins gives the Thunder minimal production, despite the fact that he’s in the starting-five.
For the year, Perkins has averaged 25.1 minutes per game, the second-most for a front court player on the Thunder behind only Ibaka. Even though he’s getting a large share of minutes, Perkins is averaging 4.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game and is shooting just 46.9 percent from the field. That’s not solid production from a back-up big-man, much less a player that’s starting for a championship contender.
Perkins is less of an asset on the offensive end of the floor and more of a liability. In fact, one of the most effective ways to defend the Thunder is to funnel the ball to Perkins and make him take short jumpers because, frankly, he can’t make them consistently. He’s just not a skilled offensive player.
He’s a large guy and plays strong on defense, but he’s not an elite defender. He struggles in regards to quickness and can’t defend very well out of the paint. Moreover, he’s a decent rebounder, but he doesn’t really have the awareness or reflexes on the boards that would elevate him to where he could be considered a great rebounder.
The reason the Thunder consistently give a large chunk of playing time to Perkins is simply because they don’t have many other options on their roster. However, Perkins is enough of a liability that it could potentially cost the Thunder games in the postseason. Looking ahead to their future, OKC should really look at improving their depth at the center position.