Kendrick Perkins is who Kendrick Perkins is. After a decade in the league we all have a pretty good idea what that is.
But after a rough playoffs last season — 2.2 points a game on 26.3 percent shooting with a PER of -0.6 — he became a scapegoat for frustrated Thunder fans. Why would Scott Brooks keep starting him and why wouldn’t GM Sam Presti amnesty him this past summer?
Those questions will get a lot louder of Perkins struggles again this season or in the playoffs — and they are questions worth asking. But it shouldn’t be on Perkins, who is a professional about his game and how he handles himself.
Here is what he told Jeff Caplan of NBA.com about the criticism and working on his game.
“A long time ago KG [Kevin Garnett] told me that there’s nobody in the NBA or nobody in the world that don’t have flaws,” said Perkins, who underwent another arthroscopic right knee surgery during the summer, a minor clean-up as he called it. “So the thing is every offseason you try to clean up your flaws. I definitely went into the gym trying to work on getting my shot up quicker, worked on my touch around the basket. I spent a lot of time in the weight room as far as strengthening my legs and just all-around work. I didn’t take any short cuts around anything and I just addressed any situation.
“But,” Perkins continued, “the first step, you just got to be honest with yourself and look yourself in the mirror and just work on what you need to work on.”
Criticism of Perkins is off base — he simply is who he is. He serves a role as a post defender, the problem is the league is moving away from traditional post bigs for him to defend. He was brought in when the Thunder thought they had to deal with Andrew Bynum and the Lakers, but the league has changed a lot since then and his role is very limited (although he would have one against Memphis and Houston). The league has evolved in another direction.
The issue isn’t Perkins, it’s why Scott Brooks is wed to him as a starting center, one that has to get a few early touches on the block every game. It is the organizational questions the Thunder are going to have to answer if this season doesn’t involve a return to the Finals.