It is no secret that I really love this kid. His attitude and work ethic won me over right from his first year as a Celtic. And I am an even bigger fan of his now than when he first joined the team. The tough times he has been through in his life have made him tougher and more determined to succeed.
Kendrick Perkins was born on November 10, 1984 in Nederland, Texas. His mother was killed in a shooting incident at the beauty salon where she worked when Perk was only 5 years old. His dad, former Lamar University star Kenneth Perkins, left the family when Perkins was 18 months old and played professional basketball in New Zealand. Perk never got to know his dad until recently. His grandparents raised him and were there to give advice, direction and comfort. But his grandparents didn't know much about basketball except that Kendrick seemed to have an aptitude for the game. Just before last season, Perk became a dad himself to Kendrick Perkins II and is determined to be the kind of father to his son that his dad never was to him.
His high school coach at Ozen High School, Andre Bouette, became his mentor as far as making basketball decisions and became the father figure he didn't have in his life. At first, Kendrick wanted to play football but Bouette wisely pointed him toward basketball instead. During his high school career at Clifton J. Ozen High School in Beaumont, Texas, Perkins led his team to four consecutive district championships and one state championship. He averaged 27.5 points, 16.4 rebounds and 7.8 blocked shots as a Senior in the 2002-2003 season. He helped Ozen to a 33-1 record, with the only loss being a 66-54 setback to Fort Worth Dunbar in the state 4A championship game. He was selected to the McDonald's All-American game for high-school players. It was in this game that he first injured his shoulder. In spite of the dislocated shoulder, he still wanted to finish the game.
He chose to forego college and enter the NBA draft right out of high school after leading his team to a 96 and 3 record over his final 3 years in high school. He was named All State in all three seasons. He was the 27th pick in the 2003 draft, chosen by the Memphis Grizzlies and subsequently traded to the Celtics along with Marcus Banks in a deal that sent Dahntay Jones and Troy Bell to the Grizzlies.
His profile on NBAdraft.net says this about him:
"Unlike many young players his age, Perkins is not infatuated with playing on the perimeter. He plays strictly a power game and is capable of dominating the low post ... Fundamentally he has added various offensive moves, from a drop step, to an up-and-under, and even the rarely utilized jump hook which he can shoot over most defenders ... Perkins is very mobile around the lane and he has no problem running on the break despite his size ... Has an excellent pair of hands that can catch most passes thrown into the post. Once there, his soft touch around the basket allows him to convert easily ... Does a good job of drawing contact to bait his defender into fouling . Has shown decent passing skills when double teams occur ... Physically he has an NBA build that has yet to fill out ... An above average rebounder who uses his body to gain good position under the glass ... Possesses solid footwork on defense enabling him to stay in front of most defenders ... Each year he has developed in some area of his game ... Work ethic remains strong despite all the hype."
In Perk's first year, he played very little, averaging only 3 minutes per game and racking up 72 DNP's. In spite of this, he worked very hard that year to remake his body and build his conditioning. His work ethic was evident in the change in the way he rebuilt his body over the first season in the league. Here are two pictures of Perk - one from December 13, 2003 and the second from a November 25, 2005. You can see how he worked to become the beast that he is today.
His second year wasn't much better than his first as far as getting playing time. He averaged 9 minutes per game in 60 games. But he continued to work on his body and conditioning and when he got a chance to play, he showed a lot of promise. In his third season in the league, he still was given very little playing time and had several DNP's until the Mark Blount trade midway through the season. He finally was given more minutes and averaged 19 mpg. But he still took a back seat to Raef LaFrenz as far as playing time. He was coming on strong and was reaching double figures in rebounds almost every game when he dislocated his shoulder once again and had to sit out while it healed. Over the summer he dislocated his shoulder a third time while working out with Clifford Ray and underwent surgery to avoid further problems with it. The shoulder healed well and he showed no problems from it the following season. His desire to play was so great that he was sneaking on the court to play before he was cleared to resume basketball activities.
In his 4th season, he got off to a good start but then was slowed by plantar fasciitis in his left foot. In spite of being in pain the entire season, he only missed 10 games. He wasn't able to practice because he had to rest his foot as much as possible. The pain in his foot kept him from being able to jump and also affected his lateral movement. Most players who have had plantar fasciitis miss months to allow it to heal but Perk toughed it out knowing that his team needed him. Toward the end of the season he started feeling a little better and was rebounding very well but still was not in shape because of the injury.
After that painful season, Perk took 2 days off after it was over and then was right back in the gym working on his conditioning and his game. He worked with Tom Thibodeau and Clifford Ray in the off season as he was completely healthy for the first time since his rookie season and he pushed himself to the limit to improve his game and his conditioning for this past season. He has also spent time learning from his new teammate, Kevin Garnett.
All that work paid off because Perk had a great season as the starting center on what was to become the Celtics' 17th championship team. He averaged 6.9 points on 62% shooting from the field along with 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. But, his stats do not show the whole story as far as Perk's importance. Perk does so much on the court that does not show up on the stat sheet. He may not get the rebound, but he boxes out so that his teammate can get the rebound. He may not score the points, but he sets the pick so that his teammate can score. He also plays very tough defense around the basket, forcing opponents to change their games. If you question Perk's importance to the team, look no farther than game 5 of the Finals. In games 1-4 and 6, the Lakers' Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol were virtually invisible much of the time. With Perk out of game 5, however, they took over the game. But with Perk back, even limited by the injury, they went back to being intimidated by him in game 6. Perk once again had surgery this past summer and had a screw put into his troublesome shoulder that will hopefully prevent any further problems with it.
Perk has made himself into one of the toughest players on the Celtics and in the league. His work ethic is second to none and each year he improves his game in some areas. Center is one of the toughest positions to fill and the Celtics have filled this position with a very tough rebounder, shot blocker, and defender. He gives the Celtics something they haven't had in many years, and that is an enforcer. He took a leap forward in his development last season, and I expect him to break out this season with another leap. He is still only 23 years old and I truly believe that Perk can establish himself as one of the premier centers in the league.
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Sunday, July 29, 2012
Perk, the Championship Center
I've posted a couple of my early articles on Perk. Here is one from September 12, 2008 with Perk fresh off helping the Celtics win their 17th Championship. I remember a few arguments I had with other Celtics fans in his first and second years as I was certain that Perk was a championship level center and others would argue that he was just a back up on a good team. Perk is a champion and proved me right. And if the Celtics had Perk in game 7 in the 2010 Finals, he would be a 2 time champion. His worth to the team was never more obvious than when he missed a game. Perk is definitely a beast!