At PF, Can the Nets Live with Kris Humphries?

With all this talk lately about the Nets needing to trade for a Power Forward, I’ve started thinking more about the merits of just sticking with Kris Humphries to start the season, especially if the ultimate goal for the Nets is to play their starting four for 20-25 minutes a game, while bringing along Derrick Favors. Without even considering his stats, I can conclude that sticking with Hump nets the organization two positives: it eliminates their need to move any worthwhile assets for a stopgap and it keeps the Nets at their current, super-flexible, cap zone. What it doesn’t do is address the current logjam at SG and SF due to the acquisitions of Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow and Damion James. Given that Avery Johnson has reportedly been very involved in the front office since being named head coach, I believe these three guys wouldn’t have been imported if they weren’t expected to be part of the rotation immediately – meaning that either Courtney Lee or Terrence Williams is getting relegated to the bench or shipped out of town.

But back to Hump. What the Nets have in Kris Humphries, is, from a statistical perspective, a league average player who is very affordable and only under contract for one more year.  His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 15.1, is the epitome of average based on ESPN’s John Hollinger’s metrics and given he accomplished that while logging about 20.6 minutes a night in New Jersey last season, there’s no reason to believe he can’t replicate those overall numbers in the role of Derrick Favors’ caddy.

What the Nets also have in Hump is a very strong rebounder – something the front office has repeatedly said they desired to have alongside Brook Lopez in the frontcourt. His rebound rate of 17.8 was good for 22nd in the entire league, better than a lot of other PFs including Chris Bosh (17.7), Udonis Haslem (17.0) and Louis Amundson (16.7), who have all be linked to the Nets in various capacities. Meanwhile, his turnover ratio of 6.2 is exceptional for a PF, which means he’s very likely to hold on to most of the rebounds he corrals.

Where Hump’s game is deficient is on the offensive end, namely as a shooter. Bottom line if Hump is ever going to be a regular rotation guy in the NBA, he has to learn to resist the jumper. About 58 percent of all of his field goal attempts were jumpers, according to 82games, good for an eFG of 37 percent. That’s just not going to cut it. There’s also some questions about Hump’s defense, though you hope now that the Nets have a coach who actually stresses defense, those issues become less noticeable.

So while Hump is not the ideal starting PF for the Nets, the organization could do far worse. It’s a proposition I’m not entirely comfortable with, but I’m more comfortable with that rather than trading Williams, Lee or draft picks, for someone who will give you the same or less production.

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