OKC: Ditch Perkins if you want any hope

I suppose as a site we’re rooting on the Spurs. Our very own Arturo is competing in the True Hoop Smackdown and he’s picked the Spurs in 5. Some of us have mixed feelings about the Spurs. Beyond that though, looking at the Thunder’s numbers, it is painful to see some bad decisions wreck the little hope they do have. So I’m here to offer some friendly advice to the Thunder.

Stop Playing Kendrick Perkins

The Thunder traded away a “key” piece in Jeff Green to acquire a real center. This move was brilliant in that it got rid of bad players on the Thunder. In terms of getting a good player? Well that’s a mixed bag. If we look at Perkins career, we can see he was once a very productive center.

Kendrick Perkin’s regular season career number through 2011-2012 via thenbageek

Season Age MP WP48 Wins Produced
2003-2004 19 35 0.139 0.1
2004-2005 20 548 0.059 0.7
2005-2006 21 1332 0.125 3.5
2006-2007 22 1576 0.045 1.5
2007-2008 23 1912 0.156 6.2
2008-2009 24 2253 0.138 6.5
2009-2010 25 2154 0.130 5.8
2010-2011 26 742 0.073 1.1
2011-2012 27 1744 0.039 1.4

At his best, Perkins was a good center. He is now right in the middle of his prime, which means he is unlikely to improve. What’s more, if you look at 2010-2011 we see a massive drop off in minutes. That’s because Perkins was dealing with injuries throughout the 2010-2011 season. Injuries have some of the most unpredictable effects on players. Offering a longterm contract to a center that had been good but not great and was coming off injuries may be a blemish on the great front office of the Thunder.

Now if we look at the depth chart for the Thunder, here’s how it’s been shaking out this season:

Oklahoma City Thunder Center and Power Forward Depth Chart for 2011-2012

Player Position Minutes WP48 Wins Produced
Kendrick Perkins Center 1744 0.039 1.4
Nazr Mohammed Center 692 0.041 0.6
Cole Aldrich Center 173 0.210 0.8
Serge Ibaka Power Forward 1792 0.263 9.8
Nick Collison Power Forward / Center 1307 0.124 3.4
Ryan Reid Power Forward 17 0.196 0.1

Perkins is getting the bulk of minutes at center, with Nazr as his backup. Perkins has had injury problems and Nazr is 34 — long past the expiration date of most players. There’s a solution though. Serge Ibaka is arguably the Thunder’s best player. His minutes are limited because he shares time with Nick Collison. Nick Collison is capable of playing both power forward and center. In fact, the numbers at the NBA Geek treat Collison as a center. If the Thunder give Collison more minutes at center, they could also increase Ibaka’s minutes. Both of these moves improve the Thunder. And instead of Nazr as a backup, why not increase Aldrich’s time? He’s young and hasn’t played many minutes. The minutes he has played have been great. I’d certainly bet on a promising young player over a 34 year old any day.

Oklahoma City Thunder Playoff Depth Chart through May 27th 2012

Player Position Minutes WP48 Wins Produced
Kendrick Perkins Center 262.2 0.001 0.0
Nazr Mohammed Center 77.7 -0.079 -0.1
Cole Aldrich Center 15.1 0.308 0.1
Serge Ibaka Power Forward 275.1 0.242 1.4
Nick Collison Power Forward / Center 183.5 0.094 0.4

Unfortunately, in the playoffs the Thunder are using the same strategy they used in the regular season. Aldrich is getting no minutes and Ibaka and Collison are sharing the power forward spot. There is no reason the Thunder’s top big should be getting less than 30 minutes a game in the playoffs and yet he is! If the Thunder want a shot, they need to rearrange their minutes and give their good players lots of minutes. They’ve already figured this out at point guard and small forward. Here’s hoping they crack it on their bigs before the series is over.

-Dre

p.s. With how fast the Spurs move, the Thunder may be on summer break before I get a chance to write the next article I was thinking about. So I’ll be brief. Stop playing Daequan Cook! James Harden and Thabo Sefolosha are really good. There is no reason Cook should be getting any minutes, especially when Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard are on the other side of the court. Carry on.

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