I have been on the Perk bandwagon ever since his first season with the Celtics. This kid worked so very hard in his first season to totally remake his body into the mountain of muscle we see today. In spite of playing only 35 minutes his entire first season, he continued working on his body and on his game. His second season, he only played 9 minutes per game but he never stopped working. In spite of injuries that slowed his development in his 3rd and 4th seasons, he never stopped working.
In the past, every time I posted that I expected Perk to be one of the top centers in the NBA, I would get a lot of people disagreeing and saying that Perk was just a back up on a good team but nothing more. I was very happy for Perkisabeast because I knew at least I wasn't alone in my love for this kid. We saw glimpses of what Perk could do over his first 4 seasons. In his second season, he pulled down 19 rebounds in a game against the Sixers.
The Celtics out-rebounded the Sixers 59-40 in Wednesday night's win. The difference was 19 rebounds. Eight Celtics combined for 40 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins had 19 rebounds. Do the math. That makes Kendrick Perkins "the difference." The Celtics got a glimpse of what the future may hold Wednesday night at the Garden, when second-year big man Kendrick Perkins set new standards for himself with a memorable 12-point, 19-rebound effort against the Philadelphia 76ers that is probably the best individual achievement of the Celtics' young season.
In his that season, he was among the leaders in rebounding per 48 minutes in spite of getting very limited playing time in his first two seasons.
Then came the injuries. His third season he had the shoulder injuries that hit just when he was starting to come on strong and that derailed the rest of the season. In his fourth season, he was doing great until the plantar fasciitis struck. In spite of being in pain most of the season, he still went out and played in 72 of the games because his team needed him. Other player such as Tim Duncan and Chris Bosh have had plantar fasciitis and sat out with it until it was healed. You won't find many players going out there night in and night out when they are in pain like Perk was. And in spite of the constant pain, he averaged 4.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 blocks per game in approximately 20 minutes per game over those 72 games. In his first 4 seasons we never got to see what Perk can really do.
Just because he hasn't broken out yet in his 4th season out of high school, doesn't mean he isn't going to. We can compare him to another center out of high school: Jermaine O'Neal. In O'Neal's 4th season, he averaged 3.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and .8 blocks. It wasn't until his 5th season that he broke out with 12.9 points and 9.8 rebounds. Perk had better stats in his 4th season, in spite of playing most of the season in pain and having his movement limited by the plantar fasciitis. I completely expect Perk to break out this season, just as O'Neal did in his 5th season.
Perk has been criticized for getting into foul trouble. Many of his fouls come from being too aggressive on defense and he has been toning his fouls down year by year. But Perk isn't the first center to get into foul trouble on a regular basis. Dave Cowens also fouled a lot.
One of the things Cowens did too much in his rookie year with the Celtics was foul other players; he committed a league-high 350 infractions. (He would foul out of 90 games by the end of his career, a total that ranks among the top 20 of all time.)
So, Cowens fouled too much also, and he didn't end up too bad. Perk is learning how to play without fouling so much and I believe that he will control his fouls more this season.
With KG and Rondo feeding Perk in the post and his man backing off to double KG or Pierce, Perk shot 80% in the preseason. He is going to get a lot of easy dunks and shots in the paint this season and could very well beat out Wilt Chamberlain's record of 72% for a season. And on the other end, Perk is going to be a force on defense, rebounding and blocking shots and just clogging up the middle. Players will think twice about driving the lane with Perk there to take the charge. It would be like running into a brick wall.
Finally, in the preseason, the Celtics won 4 games and lost 3. The one constant in the games that we lost was that Perk didn't play in them. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen played around 40 minutes each in the loss to New York, a team that we beat by 40 when Perk was in the line up. In another loss, Allen played over 30 minutes. It isn't a stretch to say that Perk is going to be very important to this team this season. KG realizes how important Perk is and had this to say:
Aside from getting to play his natural position when Perkins is in the lineup, Garnett enjoys playing alongside him and likes what the young big man brings to the table, things he first noticed as an opponent over the last few years. "He has great hands, good IQ for the game and [he's] a great defensive player," Garnett said. Garnett really only knew Perkins from playing against him twice a year, but he remembers those match-ups as "very intense". And now that they're teammates and he's gotten to know Perkins, Garnett is impressed with Perkins' worth ethic and preparation, qualities for which the two big men are both known. "We bonded really fast. I expected me Paul and Ray to bond but Perk and I we have no choice," Garnett said. "We're the front line, so we're responsible for making sure that shots are blocked and getting rebounds. We're trying to protect that rim and protect that paint. He and I have to be on the same page."
“Perk’s going to be a real big part of this team’s winning and this team’s progress. He’s very vocal. He has a very, very high IQ on how to play. He works really, really hard, and those things are refreshing. Not only that, but the way he communicates, the way he approaches the game, his work ethic . . . I like Perk a lot. You know we had some battles when we used to play against each other, and now that we’re on the same team, I love him. I love the fact that he’s beside me playing the way he plays. It makes it not only easier on me but easier on the other guys, also.”
And in the same article, Pierce also had high praise for Perk:
“I expect that from Perk. He works hard, and you know what he’s going to give you. He’s going to throw his body around. I’ve seen him work when he’s ready, when he’s in shape, when his mind’s right. I know what he can do. I know what he’s capable of.
“He’ll have an opportunity to have a really good year, because Kevin’s going to take so much attention that he’ll be able to get a lot of offensive boards and get into some open places for passes. You see how KG’s willing to give the ball up, and Perk’s really going to benefit from that. He’ll be one of the best centers in the East. You just watch.”
It's nice to see that they know what I have known about Perk all along. Perk is going to be key to this team's success this season. I agree with Pierce that he will be one of the top centers in the East this season. No doubt about it.