Iím going to be perfectly honest with you: Iím not a huge fan of Kendrick Perkins. I never have been. Well, thatís not exactly true. I was a huge fan his first year in the league. That was the year he would come in for 10 minutes a game and hack anyone driving free to the basket. Heíd knock down anyone who had given Paul Pierce a hard foul. Heíd go after anyone who got in a teammateís face.
Since he became a starter, however, my feelings on the big man have changed. I just donít think he has the skill set to be the starting center on a team contending for a championship. First of all, he canít catch. At least three times a game he drops a pass when he is wide open. Heís like Ivan Radovadovitch from ďEddie,Ē Iím just waiting for him to take one off the face.
Secondly, he doesnít rebound like he should. Perkins is 74th in the NBA in rebounds per game, 37th in the Eastern Conference. On this team, all Perk should be doing is rebounding. The fact that he canít grab eight boards a game, minimum, is ridiculous. If you took any other center in the league theyíd grab 10 boards, no problem.
He is a liability offensively. As highlighted by Mike and Tommy on a nightly basis, Perk canít set a pick without getting whistled for a foul. Even if he could, he might be the slowest player in the league, so itís worthless anyway. More than half the time he has the ball at the top of the key the play ends in a turnover. Perk doesnít have any effective low-post moves that could help KG get wide open jump shots. He canít hit an elbow jumper, so he doesnít help when KG or Pierce are being double-teamed on the block. His hook shot is a 90 mph fast ball that doesnít get an inch over the rim. The nights the offense is moving smoothly are the nights that Perk stays out of the way.
Defensively, he knows where he is supposed to be, and has limited his fouls enough to keep him in the game. He is an average shot blocker, and is sufficient at help defense. What Iíve missed the last few seasons is Perkís mean streak. He seems to reserve all of that fire for yelling at the refs and his teammates when things go wrong. Honestly, for a team that prides itself on the defensive end of the floor, it is lacking the bruiser that the great defensive squads have always had. The Bad Boys had Laimbeer, the Bulls had Rodman, and the Knicks had Charles Oakley. Bostonís direct rival, the Pistons, have their own starting center as their bruiser. Rasheed is never afraid to give a hard foul or get into it with an opponent, and he brings the edge that every tough defensive team needs.
Recently, though, Perkins has stepped up his game. In the last two games, against two potential Eastern Conference playoff teams, Perk has put in two of his best games of the season. First, he dropped 19 and 9 on the Cavs, with 5 blocks. Then on Sunday, Perk grabbed 12 boards and blocked five shots, while scoring 11 against the new-look Hawks. Plus, he had the block of the year on Josh Childress. To me, that beats out KGís block of Gilbert Arenas in the opener. Childress was already starting his celebratory scream and Perk threw it back in his mouth. In the last week he has been the definition of a beast.
But, where has this Kendrick Perkins been all season? Clearly the impending footsteps of P.J. Brown have something to do with it. Whenever a trade or a pickup like this happens, and the player whose minutes are going to be most affected starts playing out of his mind, fans and the media never seem to care. Mike and Tommy chuckle when the production of the Bigs and Rondo increased when the past weekís transactions went down. It seems to be totally expected that the player is going to try that much harder now that his job security has evaporated.
Honestly, it aggravates me. Perkins should have been playing like this all season. It shouldnít take the threat of losing his job to have him put it in overdrive. But what can you do? Thatís life in the Association. Sometimes it takes a push from an outside source to get these pampered players to stay on the top of their game. If Perk is going to play like this for the remainder of the season and the playoffs, I hope P.J. keeps pushing. I hope Perk pushes back, too, just as long as he doesnít knock him down. He needs to save that for the rest of the league.
Three things I thought while making Matt Hafele carry Nunesí luggage ... welcome to the Green Room, ROOKIE!