One of the more glaring weaknesses in the very effective Oklahoma City Thunder offense is the presence of Kendrick Perkins. Despite usually being somewhat of a forgotten man on offense due to his ineffective play, the team and the big man are trying to change that issue, hoping it’ll be enough to carry them into the NBA finals and hopefully the title.
Perkins is a very valuable asset defensively, and the Thunder didn’t amnesty him for a reason. They need a big body like his near the rim, even if most of the shot blocking threat comes from Serge Ibaka. Just like the defense worked for the Spurs this season, Tiago Splitter or Boris Diaw are the ones who cling to players, giving the more talented shot blocker in Tim Duncan a bit more freedom to operate.
But Perkins on offense can be embarrassing, and eventually, a huge hole in the Thunder’s game plan. Sure, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook they’re good enough, possibly the best in the NBA with the ball regardless of Perkins’ struggles, but there’s no reason this team and Perkins himself shouldn’t try to improve their situation, as its obvious they need some sort of adjustment and improvement heading into next season.
Perkins averaged only 4.2 points per game last season, his lowest numbers since the 2004-2005 season, when he played less than 10 minutes a night. He shot only 45.7% from the field, and his PER of 8.2 was the lowest in the NBA of anyone getting 25 minutes a game or more. The Thunder’s starting five, despite of him, had a +10.6 per 48 minutes, with a defensive rating of 97 points per 100 possessions. But they had a +19.3 per 48 minutes with Hasheem Thabeet on the floor. Perkins can’t be worst than Thabeet.
I’ve been working. Been in the gym and basically just working more in the weight room on my explosiveness and touch around the basket, hook shots and stuff like that. I’ve been shooting a lot of jumpers, making sure I make 300 a night. I’m just trying to prepare.
Even with a slightly improved Perkins, there are questions regarding the Thunder, and the first of them being how good can they be without a third dominant scorer. Last season they seemed to be the best in the Western conference with Kevin Martin and not Harden, posting the best efficiency numbers in the league besides the Miami Heat. But pinning their failure only due to the fact that Russell Westbrook was injured is ignoring certain weaknesses they had, making them less than complete or less formidable than they were in 2012.
The main reason for optimism? Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka should only get better. Durant and Westbrook will be 25 when the season begins. Ibaka will be 24. They haven’t peaked yet, and there is also Reggie Jackson to consider, probably getting a bigger role than ever this season, and Jeremy Lamb, who many expect him to become a serious contributor this season.
Perkins, as you’d expect, is one of those who is pretty sure the Thunder have what it takes to win the NBA title.
What people don’t understand is this is this is KD’s sixth year, Russ’ fifth year. Now, they’re veterans. They’ve got enough experience. And it’s Thabo contract year, and you know how guys perform on their contract year. So at the end of the day we feel like we got enough to get it done.