Kendrick Perkins, fourth-best shooter in Celtics history

Thursday, December 3, 2009

He's mostly known for his defensive exploits.  In fact, if you had to choose the crowning individual moment of his career, you'd probably have to say it was handling Dwight Howard so effectively in last season's playoffs.

So how, then, is Kendrick Perkins the fourth-best shooter in Celtics' history?  That's right, the "offensively challenged" Perkins is not the fourth-best shooter on this year's team, or the fourth-best shooter in his immediate family, or the fourth-best shooter who scowls 450 times per game, but the fourth-best shooter in the entire history of the proud Boston Celtics franchise.

Via the Herald:
Perkins, now fourth in the NBA with a .644 shooting percentage, has a career .550 field-goal percentage that is fourth in Celtics history, trailing only Cedric Maxwell (.559), Kevin McHale (.554) and Parish (.552).

With Tuesday’s 21-point, 9-for-10 performance, his high water mark for the season, Perkins has shot 33-for-41 over his last six games.

“Perk is just taking his time, man,” said Kevin Garnett, who has also made Perkins one of his favorite targets. “He’s a lot patient. He’s doing great at what’s been given to him. At the same time, he’s taking his time. Offense is just patience, and (letting) the defense react. As an offensive player you have to be a lot more aggressive than just finishing. He’s focused on catching the ball and finishing. He’s been offensive rebounding. He’s been a beast. He’s definitely growing as a player.”
First off, let me say that Perkins is first in the NBA with his .644 shooting percentage, not fourth.  Now that doing my second job as editor of the Herald is over, let me explain how Perk, despite entering the league with all the offensive talent of DeSagana Diop, has managed to become such an efficient scorer.

The most important reason is Perk's willingness to do the dirty work.  A lot of players, especially straight-out-of-high-school players like Perk, come into the NBA thinking they are going to light the league on fire, and try to do a lot more than they're capable of.

Not Perk.  Just about from day one, he's been content to handle his role of rebounding and defending.  He realized that he isn't the most gifted scorer ever -- not as talented as his former teammate Al Jefferson, for instance -- and decided to focus on the other aspects of the game, the parts he was better suited for.  Showing maturation far beyond his years, Perk settled into his niche as a low-post presence who didn't need the ball in his hands to be effective.

Surprisingly, it was Perk's willingness to focus on the other aspects of his game that allowed him to be such an efficient scorer.  For the first several years of his career, Perk never forced the issue down low, only looking to score when A) he had a mismatch, or B) he was so wide open and so close to the basket he had no choice.  Otherwise, Perkins was fine with letting his more skilled teammates do the scoring, while he focused on the other, sometimes more important, areas of the game.

This year, Perkins has been doing more scoring than ever, all while shooting at a higher clip than ever before.  His game has improved to the point where the C's now often look to dump it into Perkins in the post, counting on him to provide scoring punch in the paint.  Obviously, Perk has put a ton of time and energy into improving his game, spending time specifically with highly-regarded big man coach Clifford Ray

Along the lines of Perk's work ethic, here's my favorite Perk story ever:  After Perkins got married this summer, he declined a honeymoon because he didn't want to miss any more workouts.  (Note: It's actually true.)  Can you imagine telling your new wife, "Sorry, honey, but I have decided against a honeymoon.  I know you have probably looked forward to your honeymoon your whole life, but I'd rather lift weights and practice my jump hooks."?  I know I can't.  I'm sorry guys, but if I were an NBA player getting married, I'd still be going on my honeymoon.  My training regimen could wait a few days.

But Perk thought differently.  He just wanted to get back to work, back to honing his craft.  He's worked on his game every year he's been in the league and, while he's still more than willing to do the dirty work, Perk is now capable of being the C's leading scorer on some nights.  He won't remind anybody of Kareem in the post -- and, in Boston, that might be a good thing -- but Perk understands his abilities and gets the most out of them.

Do you want to know something funny about Perk being the fourth-best shooter in C's history?

He's probably more proud of the job he did on Dwight Howard.


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