Kendrick Perkins seems to be the glue that holds the Thunder together. The 28-year-old is one of the older players on the roster and his job is to not only be the defensive brute and enforcer for the squad, but to also be the mentor for the younger Thunder players. Of course, that also includes all-world players Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
In this piece by Adrian Wojnarowski, a smiley Perkins (okay, he never smiles) talks about how he has to soothe egos and be the problem-solver within the squad. Naturally, there are some younger talented players who also want more shots while Durant and Westbrook take a ton of them. It’s Perkins’ responsibility to let them know that it’s about a championship and not about individual statistics.
“I get phone calls at all hours of the night from different teammates,” Perkins told Yahoo! Sports. “And I’ve got to tell them: OK, you didn’t get yours tonight but…
“So OK, take Serge [Ibaka]. I’ll tell him, “OK man, you got seven points tonight, then you need to go get eight blocks. Some nights it’s not going to be your night, where you can touch the ball. It’s like that on this team, especially when you’ve got scorers like Russ, K.D. and Kevin Martin leading the league in scoring.”
The piece also talks about Perkins’ professionalism, which he learned from his days in Boston. He refused to sit out the playoffs and didn’t disclose his groin injury; he played through it despite the pain. Perkins admitted that, to paraphrase, it really bothered him but he kept going because he didn’t want to make any excuses.
Perkins also mentioned that he does not take this team for granted. He knows that while the Thunder are excellent, there are no guarantees. He points out the 18-game losing streak he went through in Boston.
It’s very hard to juggle egos but this is why it’s important to have a role player like Kendrick Perkins. While he doesn’t produce the most eye-popping stats, his best value is behind the scenes where he tries to calm down the massive egos of players and solve issues in the locker room. Perkins keeps the team focused on that one ultimate goal and that’s winning a championship. And that’s because he refuses to take anything for granted.
You may not like him but if you have someone like Kendrick Perkins on your team, you realize how valuable of a player he can be. Even if he only puts up 5.2 points and 5.1 rebounds a game. Someone has to do the dirty work.