Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
For the most part, the Oklahoma City Thunder have it all figured out. They have their superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, their sturdy bench with Kevin Martin and their defensive stopper in Serge Ibaka. What they do not have, however, is a starting center that’s actually capable of taking their team anywhere.
Enter Kendrick Perkins. It’s not that Perkins is entirely useless, he’s just a terrible center starting on one of the most elite teams in the NBA.
This season, he’s averaging 4.1 PPG and grabbing 4.7 RPG. It goes without saying that those are bad numbers, and he is on a team that hopes to make another run at the Finals this season.
The argument is made that he makes up for his lack of productivity with his defense and presence under the basket, but players that can do that are a dime-a-dozen.
In fact, the Thunder have another guy like that in Hasheem Thabeet. In very limited minutes coming off the bench behind Perkins, Thabeet has averaged 3.2 PPG and 3.1 RPG.
Per 48 minutes, Thabeet would be averaging 13.1 PPG as opposed to Perkins' 7.6 PPG. He also offers a true shot-blocking threat. Imagine him paired with Ibaka.
He has his drawbacks, though. After being taken No. 2 in the 2009 NBA draft, Thabeet still has yet to prove his worth in the NBA; he's been on four different teams and has been sent down to the D-League.
He may never be an elite center on any team, but Thabeet has taken steps toward proving that he wasn't a bust.
Another player that could be effective in taking over for Perkins is Nick Collison. In 18.9 MPG, Collison has been a solid player off the bench for the Thunder. He's only averaging 5.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG, but his hustle play and chemistry with the rest of the team makes him indispensable.
He is also much more offensive minded than Perkins, which would help balance the otherwise defensive-minded big men of the Thunder.
Frankly, Perkins should be a bench player. It’s going to hurt the Thunder when their big man can’t make a difference in an important game, which is why the Thunder need to utilize Thabeet or Collison.