As arguably one of the best defensive-minded centers in the game today, Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder is no stranger to guarding elite players at his position. Even though Perkins gets a lot of criticism for his attitude and lack of ability to be a force offensively, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t been a major factor in the Boston Celtics championship run in 2009 and during his time with the Thunder.
After hearing the Los Angeles Lakers had added Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, Perkins responded by saying the following about his team’s mindset heading into next season via Darnell Mayberry of NewsOK.com:
“We are the Western Conference champs,” Perkins said. “So at the end of the day, we’re not chasing nobody except for the ring. We’re chasing Miami to get a championship. It’s no guarantee who is going to be where. But we earned the Western champs so we’re not chasing the Lakers, we’re chasing a championship and that’s what it’s about.”
Obviously, Perkins isn’t intimidated or impressed by the recent moves of the Lakers as he believes the Thunder are still the team to beat in the Western Conference. It’s a typical response from Perkins as this reaction was to be expected from a player coming off trip to the NBA Finals.
Perkins isn’t all that fond of the Lakers after two heated battles in the NBA Finals against Los Angeles during his time in Boston. There’s definitely no love lost between Perkins and the Lakers as the rivalry has continued in Oklahoma City with a few physical matchups during the regular season and the most recent meeting in the playoffs.
It’s intriguing to say the least to see how the Thunder and Lakers will matchup heading into the upcoming season. Perkins will have the task of trying to contain Dwight Howard in the paint as he did in Boston.
Howard and Perkins created a bit of a rivalry while playing in the Eastern Conference. Perkins was one of the few players in the league that was able to slow down the three-time Defensive Player of the Year and quickly got a reputation as one of the best defenders in the league at his position.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Perkins will have the same impact on Howard next season with both teams battling it out in the West. The matchup between these two centers will almost certainly get heated and extremely physical next season with neither player will be backing down. Howard will definitely have his work cut out for him against Oklahoma City with Perkins’ only responsibility being to shutdown the Lakers center.