Kris Humphries is most widely known for his role in the reality television realm and his publicized divorce to Kim Kardashian, but he also is an underrated NBA power forward. He is one of only nine players to average a double-double last season, recording career-highs in points (13.8) and rebounds (11.0).
The list of players to average a double-double last season also includes Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Andrew Bynum, DeMarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Anderson Varejao, Marcin Gortat.
“I use that for motivation whether I am talked about with those guys or not,” said Humphries. “I think everyone has to have something that motivates them. Being a part of a playoff team and being the best player that I can be individually motivates me. I take all those things and it's what gets me up early in the morning and has me doing things that guys don’t want to do sometimes.”
While Humphries’ rebound rate and effective field goal percentage dropped from 10-11, he played seven more minutes per game and had a bigger role offensively with the absence of Brook Lopez.
Knowing the only downside for keeping him would be financial, the Nets re-signed Humphries to a two-year, $24 million contract.
“I was with the team before we went to Newark, when they started talking about (Mikhail) Prokhorov taking over, and going to Brooklyn when they broke ground,” said Humphries. “I've been here for the whole process. I'm excited to actually go there, play, be a part of it and get it going. It's kind of strange how all this has happened. I got traded to the Nets who were having that rough year where I was there half the season. The next year Avery Johnson comes in and Billy King. I find my way through all that and become a starter taking my career in a place where I worked so hard to get. I'm not satisfied and I want to keep it going.”
During the free agent process, Humphries was offered a contract by the Charlotte Bobcats and was also mentioned in sign-and-trade talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers before returning to the Nets.
According to reports, the Bobcats offered Humphries a three-year, $22 million deal and the Cavaliers were only interested in a sign-and trade for Humphries on a one-year deal to retain cap flexibility.
“Sometimes you have to think about it and run things trough your mind if you could see yourself playing in a different situation, but ultimately it wasn't a decision I was close to making. I think it came together at the right time. So I didn't really have to explore other options too much,” said Humphries. “Looking at it from the nature of the NBA my agent had to explore other things, but I'm happy to be back and this is where I wanted to be.”
While the Nets gave Humphries financial motivation to re-sign, Avery Johnson was instrumental in his decision to return from a basketball perspective.
“I wouldn't be where I am without (Johnson). He really gave me an opportunity, worked with me, and developed me. He's a great coach. I've learned a lot with him. To have been in the league five or six years and to make that jump is just a credit to him, the coaching staff, and the guys that work with me every day. I wanted to be back and I wanted to be with coach. He's been great and I think it's worked out,” said Humphries. “His system defensively helped me become a better player and offensively he gave me more opportunity than anyone has ever given me.”
Johnson proved to be an elite coach with a talented Dallas roster. During his four-year tenure as Mavericks, Johnson went 194-70 (.735), the highest winning percentage at the time in NBA history.
Humphries hopes the Nets will make similar strides under Johnson as a team.
“I'm 27 now,” said Humphries. “I'm at a point in my career where I want to win and be in the playoffs. I think everyone in Brooklyn expects that and that's what it's all about. The ownership made a big commitment financially to putting this team together and we want to play hard and deliver.”
Billy King called the pairing of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson the “best backcourt in the NBA right now,” but Humphries hopes to form a top frontcourt tandem with Brook Lopez as well.
Lopez sustained a foot injury that limited him to only five games last season, but Humphries is confident his teammate will return to form.
“Brook is so talented for a seven-footer scoring the basketball,” said Humphries. “He's improved in other areas and I think he's going to continue to improve. I don't think you've seen the best of Brook Lopez yet.”
The tandem of Humphries and Lopez complements each other well.
Lopez is a gifted scorer, averaging 17.4 points per game while shooting 50% from the field and 80% from the foul line. However, a major weakness in Lopez’s game is on the glass as he has a career rebounding rate of 12.0%.
Conversely, Humphries was sixth in total rebounding rate last season at 18.3% and scores mainly on pick-and-rolls to the basket and offensive rebounds.
Humphries is entering the prime of his career looking for his third consecutive double-double season under the tutelage of coach Johnson. Humphries will see a slight decrease in scoring with the addition of Joe Johnson and a full season with Lopez and Gerald Wallace in the frontcourt, but expect him to continue to carrying a significant responsibility on the glass.