Here Comes the Hump

Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Remember when I questioned what Kris Humphries’ role on this Nets team would be? Yeah, me neither. After two very good performances in the past week – 13 points on 6-7 shooting last Friday on the road against Orlando and Wednesday night’s monster 13 point, 18 rebound performance against Cleveland – I’m rethinking my statements that Humphries just didn’t have enough of an all-around game to be a solid rotation contributor on a team that’s expected to win more than 12 games in the regular season.

Not that he’s an all-star who’s finally starting to peak either, though, thanks to the wonder that is small samples sizes in November, Hump is certainly mighty might efficient. Thanks in large part to 72 percent shooting from the floor, Hump has a true shooting percentage of 69 percent. Combine that with his rebound rate of 17.8, his current Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 19.8 is looking pretty good.  What’s even more shocking is Humphries is finally starting to rack up some assists. His current assist ratio – the percentage of a player’s possessions that ends in an assist – of 11 is close to double his season average of the past few years.

So with Troy Murphy still dealing with an assortment of nagging injuries, Derrick Favors still the youngest player in the NBA, and Joe Smith and Johan Petro acting like Joe Smith and Johan Petro, perhaps Humphries’ strong start has earned him some more rotation minutes. He was undoubtedly the team’s best big man on Wednesday night, and that includes Brook Lopez who curiously looks totally gassed only 8 games into the regular season. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Humphries has always been a strong rebounder, and because he tends to shoot so much, he does have the capacity to offensively “go off” every once in a while. But what’s most encouraging is Humphries has seemingly embraced his complimentary role on this year’s Nets team and he’s found ways to make the few shots he takes per game, count.

But just to throw a bit of cold water here, Humphries is obviously not going to continue his torrid shooting over the course of an entire season. He’s currently shooting 100 percent  on shots less than 10 feet from the rim (but not at the rim), according to Hoopdata, and he can’t possibly maintain that. But in a sign of progress, Humphries looks to be finally grasping the idea that he’s not a stretch four and he’s starting to cut back on his long twos. Field goals between 10-23 feet consisted of 49 percent of all of his attempts last year. Currently they’re about 35 percent of all of his attempts. Something to watch for as the season progresses.