When CelticsLife.com posted this video yesterday, I was incensed. Here we had a guy… Andy Gresh… hosting a show on the TV home of the Boston Celtics saying Kendrick Perkins was, and I quote, "not that good. He's not that important. Eminently replaceable."
And then we had Gary Tanguay, the host of the Celtics pregame show, sit there and not even give so much as a hint of disagreement.
I've met Gary and he's a pretty nice guy. I've never met Gresh, but I'm sure he's a nice guy too. This isn't anything personal. But watching this from a Celtics fan's perspective is just mind boggling. I know Gresh, coming from sports talk radio, is trained to make definitive statements that may even border on the bombastic in an effort to trigger discussion and drive callers. But sometimes that gets you into trouble. The definitive statement is wrong. Or perhaps ignorant (I don't know how much basketball he watches). So here is an effort to educate the Andy Gresh's of the world who still don't know.
"He's not that good"
Perk is not going to wow anyone with any statistics. We all know that. Still, last year he did average 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds in 27.6 minutes per game. Not all that bad when you consider the other 4 guys on th court with him at the same time. And he does it all with less than 28 minutes of playing time. He's a double-double guy if you use the "Per 36" stats. He was second in the LEAGUE in field goal percentage. He threatened the Celtics ALL TIME record for single-season field goal percentage.
And that's on the offensive end… the weak spot in Perk's game.
When Dwight Howard, the defensive player of the year, was asked by ESPN to give his top 5 choices for best defenders back in January, he mentioned Perk and said
He is a really good low-post defender. He knows how to use his body to his advantage.
Perk is widely considered among the best, if not THE best, post defender in the league. In a league starved for defensive-minded players, Perkins is among the best at his position.
So I'd say that makes him good. He's not, and never will be a superstar. He won't go to the Hall of Fame. And he won't be the best player on his team. But he's a good player.
"He's not that important"
The Orlando Magic have had a great run over the past few years. They're a legitimate title contender. And Dwight Howard can be the most disruptive player in the league with his size and ability to block shots… even if they're lofted near the top of the freakin' backboard. He's a freak. And one man gives him fits.
The entire Orlando offense is predicated on people helping with Dwight because he can just bull his way to the basket and dunk on entire front lines. When anyone comes to help, Howard kicks it, the ball works its way around the perimeter, and guys find themselves wide open for 3's because the defense has been pulled way out of position with all the ball movement.
It's a great set up. They've got the shooters to pull it off. The only problem when they play the Celtics… and why the often look so bad when they do in a series… is Kendrick Perkins allows everyone to play straight up man-to-man defense. There's no need to double team when Perk is on the floor. He forces Howard to shoot uncomfortably long shots often enough to give the Celtics a chance to win. Even when Howard gets past Perkins, he does so infrequently enough that doubling him isn't necessary.
When any one player is a lynch-pin to success against one of your biggest obstacles to the NBA Finals, I'd call that player fairly important.
And yes, I'm leaving Game 7 alone. That should speak for itself as Exhibit A.
My simple question there is… with whom?
Kendrick Perkins turns 26 in November. He's a young guy with a solid NBA pedigree who has kept his ego completely in check for the betterment of this team. He understands his role here, relishes it, and appreciates it. He makes just more than $4 million a year in a league where he's probably worth twice that now.
The simple fact is there's no guy in the league who is that age, who will do what Perk has done, and who will even be available to replace Perk should he walk next year.
Go ahead Andy, take a look at the list, and tell me how "eminently replaceable" Kendrick Perkins is. The fact is that if Perk does go, he'll be very, very difficult to replace.
We all know what Kendrick Perkins is. He's a decent player. A good player even. And on this team, he's the perfect fit at that position. He's the round peg in the round hole. A defensive minded guy with the attitude and edge that fits this collection of nastiness wearing Green and White. He's KG's sidekick in defending the goal with ferocity. He's the beneficiary of some great players on offense, but he's learning more about taking his own shots. He has his flaws, for sure. But he's is still good…. still very important… and still very difficult to replace.