Although Center may be one of our weakest spots as far as depth, there may be some battles there as well.
At Center, we have Perk, Ratliff, Jones, and Pittsnogle. Jefferson will also see some time at center when Doc goes to his small ball lineup. Perkins is our center of the future as evidenced by the contract extension that he just signed. Doc has played Blount and Raef over Perk for the past 2 years but now both Raef and Blount are gone and Perk is poised to make the next step in his development. Al is much more effective at the 4, so hopefully, Doc won't go to that strategy too often.
In Sunday's paper Ratliff said that he plans to work toward winning the starting position. Given Doc's dependence on veterans to the point of running them into the ground, he may start him over Perk. Even if Ratliff starts, Perkins should be getting at least 30 mpg per game this season. His development is more important than playing Ratliff big minutes. The battles in practice between Perk and Ratliff should help both players to excel. I believe that Perk should start and Ratliff come off the bench to anchor the second team.
Dwayne Jones has been an interesting player. Danny insisted he be included in the Minny trade and was the reason we gave up Reed in that trade. He is quick and strong and capable of running the floor. He is a very good rebounder and led the D League in rebounds before being called up. He was given extended minutes the last few games of the season and responded with double digits in rebounds in each one. In Summer League, he barely got any minutes and that is puzzling. On the surface, it seems as though Jones should be a good center and can definitely rebound. He is in camp working hard so it doesn't seem to be a question of work ethic so why he hasn't gotten more of a look, at least in summer league is anyone's guess.
Pittsnogle played for 2 summer league teams and was very unimpressive in both where he was reportedly very out of shape. He doesn't have many skills under the basket and plays more out on the arc. He does seem to be working hard to get in shape and even won the bike race in the optional practice on Saturday. I believe that the battle for that final position on the team is going to come down to Pittsnogle and Jones. I would rather see Jones win the spot because of his defensive abilities and rebounding, both of which we very much need. But if Pittsnogle can prove that he also can play under the basket along with his shooting skills, he may win the spot. We have several 3 point shooters but need more toughness under the basket.
We will see a battle for the starting spot between Ratliff and Perk and a battle for the back up center between Jones and Pittsnogle. It should make for an interesting training camp and some heated battles under the basket.
I think you are right about Doc prefering vet players. I wouldn't be surprised if Rat got the starting nod over Perk, at least at the start of the season. Rat has not been a big time rebounder during his career, while Perk has got the chance to do some real damage there.
I'm a believer in Dwayne Jones. I think his agility and mobility for a big guy will be his trump card. Maybe in a year or two, he will play a bigger role.
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