Coming into the 2013 NBA Playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder were the favorites to make it out of the Western Conference and return to the NBA Finals for the second straight year. It looked like they were well on their way as they took a 2-0 lead in the first round, but then Russell Westbrook went down with his knee injury. Now the Thunder seem to be fighting for their lives.
Oklahoma City got out of the first round, but now they are in a battle with the Memphis Grizzlies in their next series. The two teams split the first two games and are now headed back to Memphis for games three and four. The Thunder have undoubtedly been led by Kevin Durant, who has greatly stepped up in the absence of Westbrook. However, it’s the rest of the Thunder’s roster that has been disappointing.
The most notable and blatant under-performing player for OKC has been their starting center, Kendrick Perkins. Perkins had a disappointing regular season this year, averaging just 4.2 points, six rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game on just 45.7 percent shooting from the field. However, he’s been even worse in the postseason, particularly against Memphis.
Through the first two games of the Memphis series, Perkins is averaging just three points, 6.5 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game on paltry 20 percent shooting. Even worse is that he has turned the ball over three times per game and had his shot blocked once per game. His role is mainly to be a defensive stopper for the Thunder, but he hasn’t even done that very well, still allowing 97.3 points per 100 possessions, just the fifth best defensive rating on the team.
The Thunder need to find a way to get more production from their centers. With the way Perkins is playing, though, that’s unlikely to happen. It seems like their best bet at this point would be to replace Perkins with Nick Collison. Though Collison hasn’t been great this postseason, it’s at the point where it can’t get much worse than Perkins, so OKC might as well take a chance.