How Kendrick Perkins could benefit OKC
Thunder fans received a surprise on Wednesday— Kendrick Perkins was photographed at the morning shoot-around session.
While there is no context to provide a clue as to why he was hanging out, it’s obviously a sight for sore eyes seeing the former Thunder big man. It all got better on Wednesday night at Thunder/Knicks, as Perk and wife, Vanity, attended the game — and subsequently received a standing ovation.
Beautiful. This is also the first time he’s ever smiled.
In the excitement of a rare Big Perk sighting, a few of us at Up The Thunder dove into what the veteran could provide if brought back into the fold. I mean, we need to get him back in the fold, right?
Let’s get it.
Bringing the Toughness
My initial reaction to learning Kendrick Perkins was in attendance for Thunder shoot-around was pure joy. However, I quickly began to wonder…why was he there?
Is Sam Presti looking to bring back Perk? Is he considering adding Perk to the coaching staff? Is Perk there to beat someone up? I had no idea. But after a few hours of brainstorming, a turkey sandwich, and a lot of YouTube highlights, I think the obvious answer is toughness.
The Thunder is a nitty-gritty team. They’re a bunch of glue guys who don’t do much else besides act as glue. But one thing they don’t have is toughness. Don’t get me wrong, Dre and the boys manned up last Saturday against Golden State — I love you Dre — but aside from Russ and Adams, these aren’t fighters and they don’t have true toughness…But Kendrick Perkins does.
Perk may not have any on-court effectiveness left in the tank, but his ability to instill players with both mental and physical toughness is unquestioned. I mean — the dude learned from one of the most terrifying/toughest players in the history of the league, and one of my favorite players ever, Kevin Garnett. Perk also taught Steven Adams to be a tough SOB, and we’re reaping the rewards of those efforts.
So if Perk can teach the rest of the youngins a thing or two about mental and physical toughness, I’m all for it. We’ll be better for it in 2–3 years.
Bringing the Nasty
As alluded to above, the Thunder lacks a sense of toughness. And while the two characteristics may be directly related, having Kendrick Perkins around does more than make the team tougher —his presence would infuse this young squad with some nasty.
To be clear, being called “nasty” outside of sports is never desirable. It’s actually quite hurtful. But when stepping between the lines, it’s often necessary to lose yourself a bit and get downright nasty.
Russell Westbrook has the nasty:
Steven Adams does, too. Which is why he’s a lightning rod for elbows, headbutts and swift kicks to the groin. He’s constantly down there getting nasty with opponents.
But who else on this Thunder team are you taking with you to a fist fight? Kyle Singler? Domantas Sabonis? We need an ambassador of nasty, my friends. Kendrick Perkins is that guy. Whether as a player, coach or consultant — who cares? He plays the game mad. He’s mean. We need that.
Bring in Big Perk and let him get to work on the nasty — that’s all I’m asking. These young guns need to learn how to play with an edge, and Perk is the man capable of intimidating them into being intimidating. He’s got this.
Bringing the Appetite
by Matt Craig
I was lucky enough to attend a Thunder shoot-around once, as a guest of Brian “Speaking in Tongues” Davis. I can still remember the date — Friday, November 28th, 2014 — because it was the day after Thanksgiving and also the day Russell Westbrook announced he would be returning to the lineup for the first time all season in that night’s game against the New York Knicks.
Davis was nice enough to introduce me to a few players, including the one and only Kendrick Perkins. Even though it’s been more than two years, I can remember the following conversation word-for-word:
Brian Davis: Hey, Perk. How was Thanksgiving? You skip on seconds because of the game today?
Kendrick Perkins: Man…I didn’t skip on sh*t.
He said this in a tone that was obviously joking, but also incredibly forceful
BD: (nervous laughter) Oh yeah? How many plates did you have?
KP: I had two, three…I had four, five o’ them muhf***as.
BD and I both start cracking up
BD and I both stop laughing immediately, and I wonder he’s about to Hulk smash me to my inevitable end.
KP: None of y’all go telling coach about that.
I was so scared in the moment that I would never, ever, ever tell coach about it. I actually worry I shouldn’t be telling anyone even now. But the moral of the story? Kendrick Perkins is hungry. We need that.
It is certainly possible that Perk was only around for a visit and we’ve seen the last of him this season — either way, it’s great to see his face. But if there is a remote possibility of bringing him back in any capacity, the Thunder needs to do it. It’s a low risk, high reward move on a team with only a few seasoned veterans.
Do it, Presti. Bring back Perk. It makes far too much sense not to.