Hump Surprising Many with Balanced Game

ORLANDO – Everyone knew the Celtics were getting a great rebounder when they acquired Kris Humphries back in July. But a reliable scorer and a great defender? That was not supposed to be a part of the package.

Or so we thought.

Humphries has proven to be an impressive all-around player for Boston as the season has worn on. Suffice to say he’s come a long way since logging five DNP-CD’s during the first two weeks of the season.

Kris Humphries contests a shot in the paint

Kris Humphries tied for the game high in blocked shots Sunday by swatting two of Orlando's attempts.
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images

The Amway Center served as the latest stage to host Humphries’ balanced game. He did his thing on the glass, per usual, but he brought the goods on offense and defense, too.

The midrange shot is where Humphries is beginning to make a living at the offensive end of the court. At the beginning of the season, he would catch a pass at the elbow and look to keep the ball moving. Now he’s looking for his shot.

Humphries fired up 15 shots during Sunday’s game. Eleven of them were jump shots. The 6-foot-9 big man converted on five of those attempts, good for a 45.6 percent clip. That percentage falls above the league average for jumpers, according to NBA.com/STATS. His midrange jumper has been so consistent that his coach is asking him to use it more often.

“I’d like him to shoot it more and not hesitate,” Brad Stevens said after the game.

Jared Sullinger is in agreement with his coach. He has watched Humphries’ jumper become one of the more consistent elements of Boston’s offense. Sullinger believes that it’s almost a sure thing.

“It’s very reliable,” Sullinger said of his frontcourt partner’s jumper. “I know when he shoots it I can almost get back on defense.”

When Sullinger gets back to the other end of the court, he knows that Humphries will be right there by his side. Humphries, after all, has become the Celtics’ most potent shot-blocker.

Yes, you read that correctly – Humphries is Boston’s top shot blocker. He has blocked at least two shots in six of his 11 games in January, including two Sunday night in Orlando. Humphries, who is rated by Synergy Sports as a very good defender, is feasting on opponents’ shots and providing strong man-to-man defense as well.

“He gets off the floor a little quicker than I thought when I first got here,” Stevens said of Humphries, who also stepped in to draw a charge against Orlando. “He’s still small to guard 5s, but he is mobile enough to switch out if you need him to, and I thought he did that a couple of times really well.”

This isn’t a guy who just camps under the basket and waits for the basketball to fall into his hands. No, he’s working hard at both ends and affecting the game in an assortment of ways. He’s leading by example, as Jeff Green discussed after Humphries poured in 18 points and a team-high 12 rebounds to go along with those two blocks.

“He’s playing hard. If you see your teammate doing that, you have to be with him,” Green said. “You have to pick up your energy, and that’s what we were trying to do.

“We owe a lot for what Kris brings to the table, his energy and his fight, his toughness. We just have to match that with him.”

Heading into this season, many would have predicted that Humphries’ teammates would be looking up at him in the rebounding column. After all, this is a guy who has had two NBA seasons in which he averaged at least 10.0 rebounds per 36 minutes in seven of his 10 NBA seasons.

The rebounding comes as no surprise. Everything else? Let’s just call that an unexpected and welcomed surprise.