At the start of the NBA season, I was one of those people who thought the Oklahoma City Thunder should be doing everything in their power to keep Kendrick Perkins off the court, which could have been through a trade, release or reduced minutes. Perkins’ lackluster play from last year had spilled over into this season. It was not a pretty sight watching him air ball layups, which led to him making weekly appearances on Shaqtin’- A-Fool.
Perkins’ play for the Thunder was nothing short of embarrassing. It seemed like the whole world was rooting against him. He was dark blemish on a bright Thunder roster. Through his bad play, he was still seeing more than 18 minutes of play per game. Those were minutes that I felt could be going to more productive players. At that point, I would not have cared if Hasheem Thabeet filled in for Perkins. I just felt that someone else needed to be in the game, no matter who that was and as long as it was not Perkins.
Now, the Thunder is sitting at 11-3, which is good enough to place third in the Western Conference. Perkins has not been playing much better on the offensive end, but the value of his role is becoming clearer with the team continuing to improve. Although Perkins may go out there and air-ball a few layups or miss a couple of dunks, he’s been giving it his all on the defensive end lately; something I haven’t seen from him since his championship days with the Boston Celtics.
Perkins’ defensive rejuvenation may be a direct result of the Thunder’s recent play. Perkins had to feel like the odd man out as his team ran up and down, scoring bucket after bucket. He knew he had to step his game up. He has tried to get things going offensively but that has never been his strong point. He now realizes that defense is the answer. Perkins has been playing great D lately; let us hope he will be able to keep it going. If he does not — backup Steven Adams will be seeing more and more of Perkins’ minutes as the season goes on.