If this is the case, why is almost everything I head or read out of OKC the opposite? Why did Wojo take the time to write an entire column about Perk's positive influence on the Thunder? Why are KD and Westbrooks so happy with Perkins?
I see the Perkins issue as a litmus test on fans. Do you truly understand NBA basketball, how physical it is and how important it is to have a paint presence? Or are you more of a stat guy, who is sued to suing stats to form your opinion?
Advanced statistics has been the rage lately with the NBA, but basketball isn't like baseball. The teamwork that goes on in basketball is different than baseball. There's no stat that shows how many times a Perkins type boxed out the other team's best rebounder so that Westbrooks or KD could pull down a defensive rebound. One can look at points per 100 possessions, but there isn't a true metric (that I know of anyways) to figure out how important a Perkins setting solid screens all game affects an opponents defense (especially later in games after running into him a bunch of times already).
The 89-24 record since OKC traded for Perk tells me a couple of things that are indisputable. Jettisoning Jeff Green and Nedad Kristic, two soft players, and adding Perk and Muhammed, two physical players, changed the culture of the team. Opening up more minutes and more of a role for Ibaka and Harden made the team more potent. Putting a wide body next to Ibaka helped him, as did having a widebody playing next to KG when Perk was in Boston. Perkins championship pedigree and mentorship has helped the Thunder.
We can debate about Perk forever (and we probably will) but as long as that team wins around 80% of its games with Perkins as their starting center and "tough guy," I'm going to give him some credit for it.
As we (should have) learned in 2008, it's essential to have tough role players willing to do the dirty work on a championship team.
I will ignore the not-so-subtle swipe that, because I use basic numbers to backup my opinions - opinions I derive from watching the NBA - that somehow I do not "truly understand NBA basketball."
I had season tickets before I left MA. This was 2006-2007. You know, the year they won less than 30% of their games, set a record for consecutive losses, etc. I didn't see them win one game that year. I left halfway through the season.
Perkins was on that team. It was his 4th year in the league. He was awful. He did not play any role in making that team better. In fact, he was a main reason they only won 24 games. He had a PER of 9.5, the worst of his career up to that point. He was playing 21 minutes a game.
Fast forward to next year - he is playing 24 minutes a game, an increase for sure, but nothing major. The team wins 66 games, wins the NBA championship, and the rest is history. Perk puts up a PER of 13.3, a much better year than the previous, but similar to the numbers he put up in 2005 and 2004. In no way do I attribute his play on that 07-08 team to them winning a championship. They won that year because of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Fast forward some more to this year. Perk has put up PERs of 9.1, 8.7, and now 10 in his 3 seasons in OKC. His offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, blocks, and points are at all time lows for him. He is actually producing less than the year the C's won 24 games.
Perks best years as a player were beside KG and being coached by Doc. I understand why Celtics fans are attached to Perk. He was a big, chubby, young high school kid who shaped himself into the best possible player he could ever be. Plus, from what I read, he is a really nice person. But the facts are that he has always been a very poor starting NBA center by almost every possible measure. He is now paid close to $10M a year by OKC to be that very poor player, and OKC most likely had to trade James Harden (a member of our Olympic squad) to avoid using the amnesty clause on a guy they signed just 2 years ago.
The 89-24 record OKC had since Perk arrive tells me one thing: Kevin Durant and Brian Westbrook and Serge Ibaka and (formerly) Harden are awesome. That team would be where they are with Perkins, Pachulia, Kristic, or Nick Collison. I'd bet the ranch on that.