Twenty-one different players recorded minutes as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder this year, most of them logging rotational minutes in various games. These twenty-one players include guys like Lance Thomas, a training camp invite who was given a roster spot mainly because he tried really hard in the pre-season (Thomas averaged 20 minutes a game with the Thunder), and Sebastian Telfair, brought in to be the third point guard on the roster (i.e., a guy who only plays mop-up duty) (Telfair also averaged 20 minutes a game with the Thunder).
I mean, this season was weird, ya’ll. So weird that Lance Thomas and Perry Jones combined to start almost as many games as Kevin Durant (26 versus 27).
Because of the patchwork lineups that the Thunder were forced to use at different points this year, and the massive moves Sam Presti made at the trade deadline, I’ve decided to divide my pool of candidates for the Worst Player into two categories. From those two categories, a “winner” will emerge, and those “winners” will duke it out for the dubious honor of the Worst Player of the season.
CATEGORY ONE: THE GRANT JERRETT GROUP OF FIVE
The first category is the “Grant Jerrett Group of Five.” These are the guys who played for the Thunder early in the season, but by way of waiver or trade, did not finish the season with the team. Candidates for the worst player in this group include: Sebastian Telfair, Lance Thomas, Ish Smith, Kendrick Perkins, and of course, Grant Jerrett.
All of these players have an argument for being named worst player, except Grant Jerrett who played so little and spent so much time injured that I don’t really believe he was actually a member of the Thunder. But there can only be one, and that one is Kendrick Perkins.
I do feel kind of bad picking Perk. He was the consummate teammate. He really did love the Thunder. It’s still hard for me to fathom that he really was traded. Performance-wise, though, this was probably one of Perk’s worst years as a pro. He had career lows in FG% (44%) and FT% (50%). His rebounding was mostly average (for him), and his defense wasn’t near as good as it should’ve been (for example, his DBPM was the lowest ever as a member of the Thunder), especially since he was going up against bench players rather than starters, having relinquished his starting job to Steven Adams.
CATEGORY TWO: CALL ME THE NEXT KENDRICK PERKINS
The second is the “Call me the next Kendrick Perkins” category. This group includes players who finished the season as a member of the Thunder. Candidates in this category include: Dion Waiters, Perry Jones, and Kyle Singler.
There is one thing that each of these guys have in common, they all have talent, but something is holding them back. For Dion, it’s basketball IQ. For Perry and Singler, it’s actually doing something when on the basketball court.
But the worst among them? I’m going to go with Perry Jones III.
This really could have been a break-out season for Perry. Thrust into a larger role due to Durant’s injury, Jones started 13 games and averaged almost 15 minutes per game. He even scored a career high 32 points against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second game of the season, shooting 58% from the field and 50% from three. Perry was so good after that game that he was expected to be a reason the Thunder could stay afloat while both Durant and Westbrook were out early in the season. But instead of leading the Thunder, Jones suffered his own injury, missed a bazillion straight games with a knee contusion, and then came back as flat as a pancake.
That 32-point game starts to look like an aberration when you see Perry’s norm is more like the 3-point performance (on 1-9 shooting in 30 minutes of action) against the Blazers in the season opener. Or the 0 point (0-5 shooting) nights against the Blazers and Knicks in December and January, respectively (Perry played 24 minutes in each).
On the season Jones shot just 40% from the field, 23% from three, and had a TS% of 46%. He was just 3-16 on corner threes and had a nasty habit of air-balling threes from above the break (see GIF above).
THE WORST PLAYER
Now, it’s down to Perkins vs. Perry. The wily veteran versus the bench mob rock-star. The turnover waiting to happen versus the waiting for anything to happen. The guy who can’t jump at all versus the guy who forgets he can jump.
And my pick for the worst player of the season is… Kendrick Perkins.
Why? For me the ultimate deciding factor was Perry’s bench-mob role. From pre-game handshakes to in-game celebrations, Perry was as entertaining on the bench as he was bad on the court.
Sorry, Perk. I still love you.
MORE SEASON IN REVIEW
- Part 1: The Best Player
- Part 2: The Best Performance
- Part 3: The Best Play
- Part 4: The Worst Player (today)
- Part 5: The Worst Performance (coming soon)
- Part 6: The Worst Play (coming soon)