Ron Artest hounds Kevin Durant like few defenders in the league. Durant’s preferred catch-and-shoot is often taken away and Durant has to put the ball on the floor more (which he did well getting into the lane Sunday in the Thunder’s win).
But Durant got some better looks Sunday because of the offensive contributions of Kendrick Perkins. Yes. Perkins.
Because Perkins sets a bigger, better screen than anyone else on the Thunder.
“He’s strong, a wide base,” Durant told PBT after the game. “He set one on Artest and I seen Artest grimace a little bit, and that’s the first time I’ve seen that from him. That was a great screen and he’s been setting those ever since he’s been here to get me a lot of open looks, and it’s also been getting my teammates open looks. If I get the basketball on a screen-and-roll he opens it up for everybody.
“He’s helping us out in a lot of different ways you don’t see in the stat sheet.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks echoed that, saying that the Thunder get some better looks with Perkins on the floor because of his screens and having players like Durant and Russell Westbrook that don’t need much space to create quality shots.
When the Thunder got Perkins it was to protect the rim and defend, to rebound, to scowl and intimidate. Or as Perkins said after the Lakers win, they told him to be himself. And that has worked — the Thunder are still a young and fun locker room, but with a year of playoff experience and Perkins, the vibe now is decidedly more serious than a year ago. All the Thunder are trying out some scowls. Well, almost.
“My scowl? I leave that up to him,” Durant said.
Any offense the Thunder got from Perkins was considered a bonus. Perkins is not that dangerous on the roll part of the pick-and-roll, and that could be an issue down the line. Against a team like the Lakers it should allow Andrew Bynum to freelance more as a help defender. But if the pick itself creates enough space for Durant and Westbrook to do their thing, that may not matter.
Either way, just don’t say Perkins doesn’t bring anything to the Thunder’s offense.