Kendrick Perkins has done OK for himself after basketball. The former prep-to-pro first-round pick landed as an analyst at ESPN and has quickly developed a reputation. It’s not a particularly good reputation, understand, but he is nothing if not enthusiastic in his analysis. With the NBA Finals set to tip off, Perkins weighed in on the Phoenix Suns-Milwaukee Bucks matchup.
Perkins appeared on ESPN’s The Jump with Richard Jefferson to discuss which team was the favorite to win the NBA championship. Perkins, as is his style, went far over the top with his pick.
However, it’s hard not to admire what Kendrick Perkins has done in transitioning from player to media member.
It’s been a strange ride for Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins had a 14-year NBA career with the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers (twice), and New Orleans Pelicans. He came into the NBA in 2003 out of Clifton J. Ozen High School in Beaumont, Texas. The 27th overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies, Perkins was traded to the Celtics on draft night.
When Boston assembled its Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce in 2007, Perkins had second billing behind Rajon Rondo with The Other Two. He averaged 5.4 points and 5.8 rebounds over 782 NBA games. He scored more than 10 points a game once in his career when he put up 10.1 points a night for the Celtics in 2009-10. However, his injury in the NBA Finals derailed Boston’s shot at knocking off the Lakers.
As an analyst, he’s either the Tim Legler of big men or the Dan Orlovsky of basketball. In other words, a guy who had a long but not particularly distinguished career. Perkins has gotten a ton of mileage off one championship ring. Legler had his 3-Point Shootout title to lean on. Orlovsky once ran out of the back of the end zone. OK, maybe that’s a bad example.
In any event, Perkins is perhaps best described as an acquired taste.
Perkins issued a bold prediction for the NBA Finals
Jefferson made his prediction on The Jump, picking the Phoenix Suns to get their first NBA title. Kendrick Perkins not only agreed with Jefferson, but he also drove off the edge Thelma & Louise style.
“This is how much I believe in the Phoenix Suns. I wish you would have told me before we got on the show that you went to Vegas, you know, yesterday and half of the time because I would have told you to bet my house on it. That’s how much faith I have in the Phoenix Suns right now.
“(T)hey are not lacking at anything. When you look at their depth, they have, you know, two awesome backcourts in Devin Booker and Chris Paul. They have shooting; they have a defensive identity; they have a young star in Deandre Ayton that anchors the defense and who’s everything you want in a center position. And then when you look at their bench: Cameron Payne, Cam Johnson, (Dario) Šarić. They have a lot of depth.”Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins has built his brand on outrageous. Sometimes it’s been outrageously wrong, but still outrageous, just the same.
Kevin Durant’s signing meant Kendrick Perkins was a made man
Kendrick Perkins’ NBA career essentially ended when he went unsigned as a free agent after the 2015–16 season. After a year away, he tried a comeback with the Cavaliers but didn’t make it out of the preseason. They brought him back for the playoffs, then cut him loose that summer.
During the run-up to free agency in 2019, Perkins said there was a front-runner to land Kevin Durant, per The Ringer, and he said so during a guest appearance on The Jump.
“I think the Nets are the front-runner to land KD. Sources tell me.”Kendrick Perkins in 2019
That forecast carried weight. After all, Perkins played for parts of five seasons with Durant in Oklahoma City. When Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, Perkins was the hottest analyst in the game.
He’s had his share of controversial takes in a short time. He said LeBron James was better than Michael Jordan during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up! His rationale? Jordan wasn’t competing for a title at 35.
Except for Jordan winning the last of his six rings at age 35, Perkins was right on the mark. He’s taken shots at current Celtics Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. His friend Durant clapped back at him after Perkins attacked Kyrie Irving. He called out Jordan for revelations during The Last Dance.
Kendrick Perkins went over the top on his NBA Finals pick? That’s just a product remaining on brand.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.