Grant Belcher, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY – Anyone who has seen Nick Collison play can tell you that stats don't always tell the story.
An average Collison stat line will be something along the lines of four points, four rebounds, one block and one steal.
But dig a little bit deeper and you find that Collison also will have taken two or three charges and had a +/- rating of something like +22 (meaning his team outscored its opponent by 22 points during the minutes he was on the court).
While there is no doubt Nick Collison is one of "those guys," recent play from starting center Kendrick Perkins has fans asking whether Perkins is also one of "those guys."
Perkins' statistics are quite insignificant for an NBA starting center, especially one who was praised for such a major role in helping the Celtics to the 2008 Championship.
There are quite obviously things he does that don't show up on the stat sheet: defense, veteran leadership and toughness among them.
But ignoring his trending statistics wouldn't be providing the whole story of Kendrick Perkins.
Here are some of Perkins' statistics from 2008-2010 in Boston – what most would consider his prime – compared to this season so far with the Thunder. The 2010-11 season which Perkins missed the majority of due to injury has been omitted.
2008-09 with Boston: 8.5 ppg (14th among NBA centers)
2009-10 with Boston: 10.1 ppg (15th)
2011-12 with OKC: 4.7 ppg (26th)
2008-09 with Boston: 1.97 bpg (6th among NBA centers)
2009-10 with Boston: 1.69 bpg (8th)
2011-12 with OKC: 1.15 bpg (17th)
2008-09 with Boston: 8.2 rpg (8th among NBA centers)
2009-10 with Boston: 7.6 rpg (13th)
2011-12 with OKC: 5.7 rpg (18th)
Field Goal Percentage
2008-09 with Boston: .577 %
2009-10 with Boston: .602 %
2011-12 with OKC: .448 %
2008-09 with Boston: 12
2009-10 with Boston: 14
2011-12 with OKC: 0
Player Efficiency Rating
2008-09 with Boston: 21.12
2009-10 with Boston: 21.64
2011-12 with OKC: 12.01
Regardless of whether stats tell Perkins' full story, it's hard to ignore the stark contrast between his "prime" years in Boston when he was helping lead the Celtics to a championship and this year so far in Oklahoma City.
The injury and weight excuses from last season are also out the window now that Perkins dropped 30-plus pounds in the offseason and said he is back to 100 percent.
But it's also hard to ignore another huge stat: the Thunder's record with Perkins in the starting lineup.
Oklahoma City is 29-8 in the 37 games since Perkins first took the court with his new team. It sports the best record in the NBA and is 2.5 games ahead of Denver for the top seed in the West.
It's hard to argue with those results, and it would be one heck of a long-term coincidence if the Thunder just so happened to turn that corner about the same time that their new big man arrived.
So maybe fans have been expecting a little too much from the new and improved Perkins after hearing non-stop about how much weight he lost over the offseason.
Maybe everyone got just a little too excited after Perkins took the ball up for a reverse cradle dunk in OKC's first game of the year this season.
The bad news for Thunder fans: they will get their answer on Perk's real value soon enough.
Through just 20 games, he has already racked up eight technical fouls – easily the most in the NBA (several players have five).
In this shortened season, the 13th technical foul and every odd-numbered one after that (15th, 17th, etc.) earn you a one-game suspension.
If he keeps up at his current pace, Perkins will miss seven regular season games out of 66 total due to suspensions.
Hard to ask for an easier way to measure a player's on-the-court impact than when he isn't even there.