Stat: Kendrick Perkins has the worst adjusted plus/minus of any player in the league this season at -20.4, a mark 4.26 points fewer than second-to-last ranked Omer Asik.
Take: As +/- has gained steam and attention as a relevant statistic over the last several years, we’ve come to understand it’s hardly a be-all end-all of a player’s worth. Even it’s more sophisticated and intricate cousin – adjusted +/-, which accounts for a player’s teammates and opponents on the floor with him – has its warts and is hardly above scrutiny. And that much is clear considering a player like Asik fares so poorly with respect to it despite his undeniably positive influence as one of the game’s top defensive reserves.
So, as always and consistently championed at StS, a combination of in-depth analytics and the eye-test is needed to best understand and glean knowledge from a particular stat. Combining all of that into subjectivity, though, still doesn’t do any favors for Perkins’ truly awful adjusted plus/minus; he’s been an obviously net negative for the Thunder all season long.
Coming into the season we were promised a light, in-shape, and finally fully healthy Perk would prove to be as beneficial to OKC as he was to Boston in his mean-mugging heyday. Better lateral movement, speed, and leaping ability was to help him not only defensively, but even on the other end in terms of grabbing offensive boards and finishing at the rim. It hasn’t happened. Any of it.
And the -20.4 adjusted +/- just begins to tell the story. Offensively, the Thunder are -8.34 points worse with Perkins on the floor as opposed to the bench, but you expect a poor number for him there; he’s always been supposed to negate any detrimental effect he has on offense with an overwhelmingly positive one on defense. Not this year. Oklahoma City – despite often going small with Kevin Durant at the four when Perk is sitting – is a minuscule +.72 points better with their domineering center on the floor. His combined on/off net? -7.62, easily the worst of any Thunder regular.
To be sure, Perkins bears the same negative influence on pretty much any lineup combination the Thunder utilize. Of the 12 five-man units that have played a combined 50 minutes for OKC this season, Perkins is featured on the fifth, sixth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh ranked quintets. Yikes.
Lucky for Oklahoma City, they’ve got a litany of options other than Perkins to play the five. Nick Collison is a +/- superstar, Nazr Mohammed is a seasoned veteran with size and underrated touch, and even Serge Ibaka can fill in at center when Scott Brooks goes to the ever-effective aforementioned formation with KD at power forward.
So, unless the Thunder are up against a frontline the likes and size of the Lakers’ or Grizzlies’, expect to see less of Perkins in the postseason. His demotion to bit-player is long overdue, and it’s easy to assume that if not for his all-too glowing reputation as a defender/intimidator, it would have taken place long ago.