He shouldn't be a secret at all. He's been a starter in Boston for most of the last four seasons, and he's got the championship to prove it. He's already got almost 8,000 NBA minutes under his belt at age 24.
But still, few are aware of just how offensively potent Kendrick Perkins can be. For his career, Perkins is a 55.1 percent shooter with an average of 5.6 points per game over his first six seasons. He's used to being the fifth and final option on the floor, but he's quietly put together solid numbers as an efficient, if seldom used, scoring option. Not bad for a guy whose main role is to crash the defensive boards.
But there's a chance we'll see Perkins break out this season. A defender who can also make the occasional layup? No more, Celtics fans. As Perk enters his prime, get ready for an offensive explosion.
The C's center has been working on his post moves throughout his career, but now that he's slimmed down — dropping from his usual 280-pound frame, rumor has it, to a healthy 265 — Perk is looking to diversify. He's adding a short jump shot to his repertoire, which should make him a tougher matchup and a more potent scoring option in the paint. Be afraid, Eastern Conference.
"I think that jumper started coming along late in the year last year," captain Paul Pierce told the Boston Herald during a practice this past weekend. "Look at him right now — he’s working on it. That just comes from his hard work and his will to want to get better and to add something to his game each and every year. You see it."
Even in the preseason, you've seen it. When Perkins poured in 11 points in the Celtics' 106-90 preseason win over the Raptors on Wednesday night, he wasn't always doing it the easy way, with dunks and routine layups. You saw some quickness and some heads-up decisions with the basketball — you saw the ability to create a shot.
Perk went 4-for-6 from the floor on Wednesday night. It was his fifth consecutive preseason game shooting at least 50 percent from the floor — he shot 1-for-2 against the Rockets in the opener, then 5-for-7 against the Knicks, then 3-for-6 and 3-for-5 in two matchups with New Jersey. Do the math — Perkins is a 62-percent shooter so far this October, at 16-for-26.
His shooting numbers have been solid for the past couple of seasons. He shot 62 percent in the Celtics' title-winning 2007-08 season, and 58 percent the year after. Perkins has never been flashy on offense, but he's efficient, avoiding costly mistakes with the ball.
In the future, he could do more than just that.
If Perkins stays in shape, remains healthy and continues to expand his game, it will help the Celtics immensely. If he's able to pour in 15 points a game, that would be a godsend for the C's — but there's more to it than that. Even an extra bucket or two each night would make a big difference. If Perk can draw the attention of opposing defenses, it will help draw the attention of opposing defenders. That will free up more open looks for Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, spreading the floor and making the Celtics unstoppable.
Doc Rivers and the Celtics have always emphasized teamwork. And this season, you could see a team with all five guys on the floor posing a serious threat offensively. With a team this balanced, you can't stop them all.
Perkins is the final piece of the puzzle. And so far, it looks like that piece is falling into place.
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