The Oklahoma City Thunder have been in the news recently for managing roster issues. Planned and unplanned adjustments have stirred the pot as the Thunder push for the playoffs. The team must be healthy to make a playoff run in the competitive western conference.
Starting Center Kendrick Perkins underwent successful surgery to his left groin on Tuesday. Perkins will miss six weeks as a result of the procedure. The center has been cog in the Thunder system since traded from Boston Celtics during the 2010-11 season. His presence is important, but Perks absence can be managed.
Analysts have been throwing around stats like the Thunder are 0-3 this season without Perkins. He is the only starter whose absence has resulted in a losing record for the Thunder. Take this analysis into consideration than flush it down the toilet.
The Thunder are first place in the west and second best record in the league because of Kevin Durant. He leads a fast-tempo ball club that is ranked 6th in average points per game and 7th in fastbreak points per game. His Player Efficiency Rating is 30.7 equaling number one in the league. Perkins PER of 6.2 is well below the league average of 15. Steven Adams and Nick Collison both have higher PERs than Perkins and will be counted on for replacement production.
The 0-3 Thunder record with Perkins out came against the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, two playoff caliber teams.
Russell Westbrook returned to the Thunder starting lineup after missing 27 games with a knee injury. Coach Scott Brooks has monitored Westbrook’s minutes during his first two games back. Westbrook’s field goal percentage was low, but two games at 25 minutes per game is not a realistic sample size to determine his production going forward. Expect Westbrook at full strength come playoffs.
The wildcard to watch out for is Reggie Jackson. Jackson filled Westbrook’s shoes admirably averaging 15 points and 5 assists in January. He has played the same minutes since Westbrook’s return, but averaged only eight points in the two losses.
Are there enough shots to go around for two point guards that are shoot first pass second? A tough call to conclude right now, but you see management problems like this in the NFL. Starting quarterback goes down, the replacement wins games creating a difficult decision. Evaluation right now is that Jackson will continue to see his minutes off the bench as Thunder are going to need help with Perk out and Thunder can also afford to play small because of their efficiency scoring on the fastbreak. Roster management issues like this for the Thunder are grey hair city and reason enough not to be a head coach.
Other news related to the Thunder is their failed attempt to trade for New York Knicks Iman Shumpert at the deadline last Thursday. OKC offered their first round pick in 2014 for Shumpert, but the Knicks rejected. A deal the Knicks maybe should have accepted considering Shumpert’s injury history, bleak chances of making this year’s playoffs after losing four of five since the all-star break, and having three shooting guards competing for clock.
Thunder have done well with roster management issues this year. Two months until playoffs.
Commentary by Niles Olson