Kris Humphries – A Closer Look

The trade has been made official, and the Nets have sent Eduardo Najera for Kris Humphries and Shawne Williams.  To make room, Sean Williams was cut.  Shawne Williams should also be cut, but it seems the Nets will keep him on the roster for a bit to get a “free look” at him.  Who knows, maybe this trade will help him perform up to his potential (probably won’t happen).  The big acquisition in the deal is Kris Humphries.  The ladies of the Fort Worth Dallas area are taking it hard, but I am excited we have him.  I put together a little video of what Kris Humphries can bring to the Nets, and Mark talked to Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game, and asked him a few questions about Humphries.

NAS: Kris Humphries has some decent points/rebounding per 40 stats but didn’t seem to get a lot of playing time in Dallas.  Any explanation for this?

For one, the Mavs have a lot of talent. At power forward, Dirk Nowitzki’s logging almost 38 minutes per game, which only leaves table scrabs. At center, the Mavs had two superior options in Erick Dampier (the anchor of the Mavs’ defense) and Drew Gooden (does everything that Humphries does well, only better) combining for an average of over 48 minutes. Throw in some minutes at power forward for Shawn Marion in small bill situations, and there’s not much left for a guy like Humphries. To make matters worse, Hump isn’t the best defender in the world. He’s the kind of guy you hate to criticize because you know he’s working hard out there, but he just doesn’t have a very good grasp of where he needs to be on defense when his man doesn’t have the ball. He’s usually slow in providing help, disappointing on the pick-and-roll, and a bit undersized. He has defensive strengths (rebounding, rebounding, rebounding, and the occasional highlight reel block), but for a Maverick team that’s trying to forge an identity based on their defense, Kris was often the odd man out of the rotation.

NAS: Do you think Humphries is the kind of player who can succeed with less talent around him?

Sure, as long as your definition of “success” is reasonable. Hump isn’t ready to be a double-double guy, even with an increased role. But with extra minutes and more opportunities, he can provide some buckets cleaning up the offensive glass, energize the second unit, and hit the boards with the best of them. Those things are fairly independent of who’s on the floor with him. After his time sitting on the bench in Dallas, Humphries will be ready and willing to play and to work hard, and provided he isn’t discouraged by the lack of team success (sorry, but it needs to be said), he should definitely have a successful season filling in off the bench at either the 4 or the 5.

NAS: John Hollinger criticized his defense and his knack for taking ill-advised jump shots. What did you see?

I can see Hollinger’s concerns about Humphries’ defense, but I don’t want to beat a dead horse. It definitely qualifies as a weakness, especially when considering how good of a defender Hump could be given his strength and athleticism.

Hollinger described Humphries as a “selfish offensive player,” which just doesn’t seem to be the case. He may be deceived by Humphries’ high usage rate (21.4%, tied for fifth on the team) but that statistic is complicated by a few factors. First of all, a lot of Hump’s shots come off of self-made possessions via offensive rebounds. He boards, and goes right back up for a put-back. Those are calculated as used possessions, despite the fact that in most cases, they’re not even an honest to goodness shot attempt so much as a heavily contested tip attempt. Additionally, Humphries’ finishing skills don’t quite measure up to his rebounding, which often leads to sequences in which Hump gets three or four looks around the basket. Even though he’s adding possessions with the boards, he’s artificially inflating his usage rate. Plus, Humphries is a fan favorite and a garbage time all-star. When he goes in the game, his teammates look to get him points, regardless of who is in the game with him. That’s going to inflate Hump’s FGAs, and though he’s legitimately taking those shots, it doesn’t quite qualify as normal circumstances. I’m not sure if suiting up for this season’s Nets qualifies either (Hump could very well go into “hero mode” and overstep his role in the Nets’ offense), but see what makes Humphries a “selfish offensive player.” Yes, he attempts shots around the basket. Yes, he attempts a little over one jumper per game, and in most cases, he’s wide open. That’s a far cry from what Hollinger’s claiming.

Now, if you want to talk about his lack of shot-creating abilities, nonexistent post game, or inability to put the ball on the floor…

NAS: How physically equipped is Humphries to play PF in the NBA?

Very. He’s not the tallest at his position (listed at 6’9”), but in theory, Hump has the bulk to battle post-up forwards and the quickness to guard perimeter-oriented threats. But again, there’s a gap between Humphries’ physical skills and his actual performance. You’d think that both his muscle and and his quick feet would be quite helpful on offense, but Humphries isn’t great at driving to the basket or capitalizing on poor post defenders. You’d think that his athleticism would make him an excellent and versatile defender, but something’s missing. He can’t capitalize on his leaping ability in a natural, organic way like Josh Smith, or compensate with superior technique like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Hump just doesn’t have a mind for the defensive end or the skills for the offensive end, and that’s why he’s essentially stuck in development limbo. He has everything he needs to be a very successful power forward, and maybe one day he’ll get there.