Thunder Storm Into Title Contention With Deadline Deals

I’ve already gone over the Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson trade for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic on the Boston side of things so now it’s time to take a look at what the Thunder got out of this deal.

The Thunder won themselves this deal, easily, and if we are taking into account the other factors outside of strictly the players involved, Oklahoma City may very well have completed the best trade of the season. They didn’t get the best player or the second best player, but Deron Williams is on a Jazz team without a supporting cast and Carmelo Anthony isn’t the greatest fit for New York and he cost the Knicks half of their roster. But the Thunder, they added the most necessary piece of the deadline and they did the best job of any team by filling an actual need that they had.

The Thunder needed a defensive minded big man in the paint that could toughen up their frontcourt and they completely filled that hole with one of the best defensive centers in the league with Kendrick Perkins. He’s an enforcer, a big man that won’t back down from any challenge presented to him and he’s someone that guarded Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the Finals last season, so he has experience against the Thunder’s toughest opponent in the Western Conference.

Perkins has no offensive game to speak of and on many occasions with Boston, after Rajon Rondo had set him up perfectly underneath the basket for what should have been a wide open dunk, Perkins would wait to long to go up and either get blocked from behind or get fouled. Once in a blue moon, he’ll hit a bankshot from 10 feet, but he’s shooting 33% on the year from that distance, which is a pretty telling stat for a guy like Perk. Still, on offense, the Thunder have Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to get clean looks off and Perkins will likely only be asked to attack the glass with intensity. He’s a reliable finisher at the rim if he goes up in a timely manner and he’ll get about six points a night out of hard work on the boards and slips to the basket when his teammates get into the paint.

Defensively, Perkins makes the Thunder an elite group, which is obviously the reason the Thunder pulled off this deal, and that’s not just because of his addition.

With Krstic and Green out of the picture, Serge Ibaka will finally move into the starting line-up after having to come off the bench for Kristic and Green on a nightly basis. Ibaka was making a strong case for himself as a defensive player of the year candidate earlier in the season and although that buzz has quieted down since, he is still a very, very good defender for someone that is just 21 years old. He can jump out of the gym, as we saw in the dunk contest, and he has harnessed that athleticism to turn himself into one of the better shotblockers in the league.

Ibaka will definitely see an increase in his minutes now and on the year he’s averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks PER36 minutes. Ibaka’s defense and rebounding will obviously make the Thunder a better team now that he will be on the floor for longer stretches, which is something that Thunder fans have been saying since the season began. Ibaka earned Green’s starting place earlier in the year and he’s finally getting rewarded with it. With Perkins playing center, there are some potential problems with the Thunder’s posts being able to score.

One of the reasons the Celtics could get away with Perkins doing nothing on offense is because they had two great wing scorers and Kevin Garnett filling it up at power forward. The Thunder have the two dynamic wing scorers in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook but Ibaka is not close to Garnett when it comes to scoring the ball. That’s not to say Ibaka isn’t growing. Again, he’s just 21 years old, and quietly he’s shooting 41% on 16-23 foot jumpers on the year while taking just under two a game. Ibaka is an elite finisher at the rim already and with some expanded moves in the post for Ibaka, this duo of he and Perkins could be a great one.

If they have to match-up with the Lakers at any point in the post-season, they may have a rough go of things just because of how well the Lakers defended them in the post-season last year, but if they can avoid the Lakers in the post-season, they have a very good chance of getting to the Finals and potentially knocking off the Magic, Celtics or Heat.

And not only did the Thunder acquire Perkins and Robinson at the deadline, they also added veteran seven footer Nazr Mohammed from the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for the rarely used Morris Petterson and D.J. White. While acquiring Perkins was clearly Oklahoma City’s primary focus, don’t sleep on the addition of Mohammed, here. They traded two players they haven’t used at all this season for a seven footer that can still score at a reasonable rate while playing solid defense and rebounding well. That’s a great addition for a couple of spare parts.

With Ibaka and Perkins guarding the paint and Thabo Sefolosha serving as one of the league’s better defensive wings, the Thunder have a great foundation defensively with the league’s top scoring player and the second highest scoring point guard leading the charge on offense. Oklahoma City is a team loaded with youth and they are already such a good team. Their starting line-up of Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka and Perkins can defend and score while their bench consists of versatile assets that can defend and score as well with Eric Maynor, James Harden, Nate Robinson (Robinson, by the way, should be a nice addition for the Thunder playing the same role he did for the Knicks and Celtics), Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed.

The Nets may have got the best player at the deadline and the Knicks may have got the most polarizing one, but the Thunder made the best deal as it relates to the needs they had as a basketball team. They needed strength, defense and a force inside so they went out and dealt two spare parts and two expiring contracts (one being the overrated Jeff Green and the other being the appropriately rated Nenad Krstic) and got themselves a veteran presence in Mohammed and a 26-year old defensive building block in Perkins.

Not bad, Presti. Not bad.

Line Break

Author: (2411 Articles)

Mark is an 18-year old sports fanatic that founded this website back in October of 2008. He is the lead contributor for this site and a credentialed member of the media for several sports leagues and organizations. Mark's main focus is the NBA, though he also covers MLB, NFL, and International events like the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. Follow Mark on Twitter: @Mark_Travis

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