With Jia Perkins calling time on her career, it is time to take a look at how her loss will impact the champion Minnesota Lynx team.
By Matt Hallett
Jia Perkins chose the start of free agency to announce her retirement. This is true Perkins style. She did not do it at a time which would impact the championship celebrations. She also did not do it after the Lynx had made roster moves assuming she would be around.
In a career that spanned 14 seasons, Perkins played 417 games which is 15th all-time. For her career, Perkins averaged 24.4 minutes, 10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
It is this last category which, in my mind, best defined the 5'8" guard out of Texas Tech. Her 1.5 per game is good enough to have her in 23rd position all-time for steals. What is most impressive is it translates to 635 total steals. This is good enough for fifth all-time.
Perkins was named to the all-defensive second team once in her career in 2013. However, Perkins was not just all defense. Her defense usually sparked good offense. In fact, in 2009 Perkins was an All-Star. In that season she averaged 13.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.3 steals.
Perkins has also been known to pick her times, stepping up when her teams needed her. In 2011 while playing for the San Antonio Stars, Perkins played well in the series, scoring 24 points in the second game against the Lynx and then helped push the eventual champions in game 3. In her first playoff series, she averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.67 steals per game.
Towards the end of her career, Perkins value was not in her numbers but in her court presence. This is one intangible the Lynx are going to miss without Perkins. She had really good instincts and could still fill it up when needed.
However, it is not just the loss of Perkins which is going to impact the Lynx this year. Without Plenette Pierson (retired) and Renee Montgomery (signed with Atlanta), the second unit is starting to look a little vulnerable.
However, no one can play forever. It is fitting that this champion of and for the game went out at the end of her career a WNBA champion for the first time. Jia, thank you for playing the game the right way. You will be missed on the court by your teammates and by basketball fans in general.