New Kids on the Block

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:13 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Feb 24, 2011 7:20 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY – In an instant, the entire makeup of an NBA roster can change.

In the next instant, the management and coaches of that roster have to figure out just how to fit everyone into the lineup on a moment’s notice.

While it’s impossible to read Scott Brooks’ mind as to how he is going to use his new acquisitions, it’s always fun to speculate.

To recap the trades, OKC sent Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and a draft pick to the Celtics for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson.

The Thunder followed it up by trading forward D.J. White and guard Morris Peterson to the Bobcats for center Nazr Mohammed.

The most obvious point of the trade was to bring in a big, tough center to stick in the post, and Kendrick Perkins fills that void. He will start at center for the Thunder from the day he is healthy. Perkins is currently nursing a sprained MCL and it could be a week or so before his first game in an OKC uniform.

Perkins has averaged 7.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game this season while recovering from an ACL tear suffered in the Finals in 2010.

Because of the injury, he has played in just 12 games this year. But since becoming healthy again, Perkins has averaged 8.3 points, nine rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in January.

Perkins’ contract expires after this season and he will be an unrestricted free agent, meaning the Thunder are counting on him to fit in well and agree to re-sign with the team after this year.

Nate Robinson, the other piece in the trade to the Celtics, likely won’t have as much of an impact.

Most NBA fans know Robinson best as a three-time Dunk Contest champion despite standing just 5-foot-8.

But Robinson is stuck on the depth chart behind an All-Star in Westbrook and one of the league’s best backups in Maynor.

Nazr Mohammed, the forgotten new Thunder player, might be a steal by many GM’s standards. He was the starting center for the Bobcats, but will obviously serve as a backup to Perkins for OKC.

Mohammed averaged about seven points and five rebounds so far this season in Charlotte.

Several other players already on the Thunder roster are affected by the trade as well.

Serge Ibaka will start at power forward for the foreseeable future. Nick Collison should now be backing up Ibaka at the power forward spot rather than filling in as an undersized center like he had been.

With Green gone, Thabo Sefolosha is the only viable option to back up Durant at small forward, though with Durant playing so many minutes, he wouldn’t be out there for long.

It will take at least a week to see exactly how the new lineup shakes out, but the breakdown of minutes played at each position should be something along the following lines:

(Player – Minutes Played)
PG: Westbrook – 32, Maynor 12, Robinson 4
SG: Sefolosha 14, Harden 24, Cook 7, Westbrook 3
SF: Durant – 36, Sefolosha 12
PF: Ibaka – 30, Collison – 14, Durant 4
C: Perkins – 30, Mohammed – 14, Collison 4