He can rebound the ball with the best of them, he has spurts of solid defensive play, and he has proven himself capable of shooting at a high percentage from the field. Despite all of his talent, however, Humphries has only had two highly productive seasons in the NBA -- and the 2012-2013 season certainly wasn't one of them.
Now that he is in the last year of an expiring contract, the pressure is on for Humphries to prove to teams around the league that he still has what it takes to be a strong forward in the NBA.
The following five reasons break down why next season is especially important for both the 28-year-old Humphries and for the Boston Celtics' playoff hopes:
1. A disappointing 2012-2013 season
The Brooklyn Nets were one of the more exciting teams to watch going into the 2012-2013 season. They were finally on their way to Brooklyn to occupy a brand new stadium; they landed All-Star Joe Johnson in the offseason; they were set to have forward Gerald Wallace start the season with the team for the first time; and superstar Deron Williams, after lengthy negotiations, agreed to stay with the Nets, signing a five-year deal worth nearly $100 million.
Although the team had a very respectable regular season, there is no denying that the first-round loss to the injury-plagued Chicago Bulls in the playoffs was a major disappointment. It's not fair to lay the blame on Kris Humphries' doorstep, but he certainly didn't help by having a very disappointing regular season followed by a virtually non-existent presence in the Bulls series.
Humphries' numbers dropped across the board in virtually every category. In 2011-2012, Humphries had the best season of his career, averaging 13.8 points, 1.2 blocks, 11 rebounds and a field-goal percentage of .481. In addition to having his playing time greatly reduced in 2012-2013, Humphries managed to score only 5.8 points per game, 0.5 blocks and 5.6 rebounds, and his shooting percentage fell to .448. If these numbers carry into 2013-2014, it's hard to imagine any team will want to give Humphries an important role on a new roster.
2. The big and bloated contract
After a strong 2011-2012 season, the Brooklyn Nets rewarded Humphries, who largely had been an underperforming player prior to moving to Brooklyn, with a two-year contract worth roughly $24 million. Needless to say, Humphries wasn't worth the big dollars in the first year of his deal, and teams will be very reluctant to open up their wallets in the 2014 offseason to pay him anything close to what he earned last year if his numbers don't improve.
3. The Celtics need solid rebounding
The Celtics have been a terrible rebounding team over the past two seasons, finishing dead last in total team rebounds in 2011-2012 and 29th out of 30 teams in 2012-2013. Now that they have added Humphries, Gerald Wallace and young first-round pick Kelly Olynyk to the mix, they are hoping to be a lot more consistent in the rebounding department.
4. Brandon Bass hasn't lived up to his days in Orlando
Despite flashes of strong play on the offensive side of the ball, forward Brandon Bass simply hasn't been able to produce the way he did when he played for the Orlando Magic. His offensive game has at times seemed one-dimensional and rebounding is still a major problem for him. If the Celtics have to rely on Bass in order to make the playoffs, you can count them out right now. Humphries, on the other hand, is a better rebounder, a little more versatile on offense and a grittier defender -- that is, of course, when he plays like he did in 2011-2012.
5. The Celtics need consistency from the low-post
One of the biggest flaws for the Celtics going into this season is the large number of question marks that surround the team. No one knows exactly when All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is going to make his triumphant return; it's still unclear if Boston plans on making a blockbuster trade before the deadline; rookie Kelly Olynyk is currently the only true center on the roster; and Jared Sullinger's legal troubles may prevent him from playing for an unspecified number games.
If the Celtics don't get some consistency out of Kris Humphries, it's going to put a lot of pressure on other players, many of whom are younger guys, to perform at higher levels that they have never been asked to reach before. If, however, Humphries can be a productive player on a nightly basis, don't be surprised to see him end up with the starting role by the time December rolls around and for Boston to be right in the middle of the playoff hunt.
Don't agree with me? Tell me why I am wrong on Twitter @THATCelticsGuy.
Justin Haskins is a New England native and a freelance journalist. He has been obsessively following Boston professional sports for 10 years and has been published in numerous online publications and websites.
- Sports & Recreation
- Boston Celtics
- Kris Humphries
- Brooklyn Nets