There are things in life that we hold as pure truths. Life is better when we keep things simple. Honesty truly is the best policy. Random acts of kindness do actually make this world a better place. Kendrick Perkins is a freakin all-star.
Before the season started, I submitted a question to @csl_justin and @csl_duke from Celtics Stuff Live. The question was pretty straight forward: will Kendrick Perkins have a breakout year?
I thought the answer was yes. Justin and Duke also thought yes. Perk was going to keep adding to his game, stepping up, and being as solid as ever. We were going to see a few more dimensions to his offensive game while steadily making his defensive prowess louder and more consistent.
Many of us thought yes. But did we think we’d see THIS KIND of breakout year?
We’ve known that Perk has been a stalwart defender for the last couple of seasons. Much of what made Perk so effective never shows up in the box score. You can’t quite quantify his importance to a team or its ability to win. But when KG went down shortly after the all-star break in February 2009, Perk matured in an instant.
Perk filled in quite beautifully as the quarterback of our defense and to anchor the crew that was charged to make stops. The Celtics fan base observed this, soaked it in, and smiled because of it.
This little known factoid became a national headline when the Celtics took on the Magicians during the Eastern Conference Semis. Dwight Howard was shut down, and it wasn’t the first time that season (read this article that was written during the series).
When Dwight Howard ate Cleveland alive during the ECF, everyone knew why: there was no defender strong, fast, or smart enough to shutdown Dwight. Perk has continued that kind of hidden but excruciatingly important defense this season.
But there is a difference. Yes we know that Perk does the dirty work. Perk muscles his way to clog up the paint against opponents attempting to slash to the hoop. Perk boxes out opponents’ bigs so that someone in green can get the boards. Perk plays help defense to force bad shots.
This is the type of dirty work that just doesn’t show up in the stat sheet. Yeah, Perk’s still doing those things. But his slimmer physique has given him a considerably quicker first step. Perk can slide from one spot to another so much faster this year than in the past. In other words, Perk has the strength to body up a big one on one but now the quickness to cover more ground in less time.
So back to that difference: Perk’s play is starting to translate into noticeable stats:
Perk has 38 blocks this season, which is good for 5th best in the association. Perk’s blocks are almost an equal balance between jump blocks and close blocks. More impressive than that, Perk has a 1.88 ratio of blocks/fouls. Perk is shooting 64% from the field. Whoa. Perk is averaging a career high 12 ppg.
But the kicker in all of this? Perk’s game is continuing to develop in ways that still don’t show up in the stat sheet:
Perk’s improvement in setting legal screens (hip hip, hooray!). Perk’s vision to see the passing lane. Perk’s ability to execute a pass when a player is on the move and cutting to the hoop (very new).
Perk’s ability to not only back down a player on the post, but to also front him. Perk’s evolving post moves: spins, hesitations, ball fakes. Perk’s slowly increasing range from the baseline.
Simply put, this man is a beast. Perk is truly contributing to making a great team greater. Kendrick Perkins is a freakin all-star, so go get your vote on at http://voteforperk.blogspot.com (created by none other than @kwapt).