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March 18, 2011
The Clipboard
Kris Humphries' Offensive Improvement

by Sebastian Pruiti

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With the solid season Kris Humphries is putting together, he has gone from role player on a 12-win Nets team to a starter who made both Derrick Favors and Troy Murphy expendable. Humphries won the starting job because of his strong defense and rebounding (block percentage of 2.9, defensive rebound rate of 32.0 percent, Defensive Rating of 102.8), but he has kept his job as Nets' starter because of his offense. Humphries has already posted career highs in WARP (5.3) and Win% (56.4 percent), and the reason why is that he is much more efficient scoring the basketball this season.

Humphries has seen his Offensive Rating jump from 104.4 with the Nets last year to 104.7 this year, but the biggest improvement is tied to Humphries' shooting. Last year Humphries posted a True Shooting Percentage (TS%) of 49.8 percent, this year, Humphries' TS% is 56.3 percent. So why the improvement? Humphries is finally being used properly on the offensive end.

Last year, during his time with the Nets, Humphries two most-used offensive categories were spot-up (26.7 percent of offensive possessions) and isolation (14.1 percent), where he shot 31.9 percent and 35 percent respectively. Humphries was essentially being used incorrectly, and it showed when watching the tape:

Here, Humphries sets a screen for Terrence Williams, but after setting the screen there is no roll to the basket or cutting off of the ball to the rim. Humphries simply stands on the elbow, waits for the basketball, and takes the jumper that he misses.

This clip is a perfect example of what was wrong with Humphries last year. Humphries makes the catch and holds onto the basketball. Once he doesn't make that initial move off of the catch, you know that he isn't going to be able to score. Humphries tries to make a move, but he isn't quick or tall enough to make an effective move and he can't finish.

This season, Johnson has been able to put Humphries in much better position to score. The reason why is because Johnson has been able to limit the time Humphries holds the basketball. Instead of spot-ups and isolation sets, Humphries most-used play types this season are cuts (17.5 percent of total possessions) and pick-and-roll man (15.8 percent), where he is shooting 69.8 and 55.4 percent respectively. All of these play types allow Humphries to quickly catch and finish. There is no holding of the basketball, allowing bigger defenders to bother his shot. This was his biggest problem last season.

Looking at Humphries' cuts, his most-used is a cut to the basket, doing so 78.3 percent of the time he makes that move. Coach Johnson has given Humphries the freedom to play off of his teammates, reacting, and cutting off of their penetration.

Here, Deron Williams attacks the rim with Joakim Noah (Humphries' defender) helping out on defense. Humphries cuts off of Noah's help, and Williams finds him and hits him as Humphries is moving towards the rim. Once he makes the catch, there is no dribble needed from Humphries as he simply catches and goes up.

Here, Humphries is sitting at the high post as the ball gets swung to Sasha Vujacic on the wing. Vujacic pump fakes and attacks the rim, drawing Humphries defender in to help. Humphries cuts off of this help, sliding to the rim to receive the basketball. Vujacic hits him with the pass and once again Humphries is able to go up with it without using a dribble, preventing the defense from getting back and bothering the shot.

Maybe the biggest revelation in Humphries games has been his play in the pick-and-roll game. He wasn't used much in the screen-and-roll last year (just 9.9 percent of total possessions), but this season Humphries has been very effective as the screener in a pick and roll. Humphries has been super effective rolling to the basket (doing so on 47.1 percent of screens he set) shooting 68.6 percent when he rolls to the basket after setting screens. This is because if you get Humphries, with his size and strength, rolling to the rim, he is pretty hard to stop:

Here, Humphries sets the screen and then rolls to the basket as his man hedges on the ball handler coming off of the screen. Williams hits Humphries with the pass and he is able to catch, go right up with the ball, and finish through the contact.

On this play, Humphries sets a screen for Jordan Farmar. Again, Humphries' man needs to hedge and when that happens, Humphries rolls to the rim. The help defense rolls over, but both defenders are hesitant to get in front of Humphries, allowing him to finish.

Johnson has been brilliant when it comes to putting Humphries in positions to score the basketball. He is really limiting the amount of time he holds the ball, instead getting Humphries going to the rim (both off of cuts and pick-and-rolls) where he can catch and finish without even taking a dribble. This makes Humphries much more effective because it prevents bigger defenders from crowding him and bothering his shots with their length.

The 2010-11 Pro Basketball Prospectus is now available in paperback form on Amazon.com. For sample chapters and more information, see our book page.

You can follow Sebastian on Twitter at twitter.com/@SebastianPruiti.

Sebastian Pruiti is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Sebastian by clicking here or click here to see Sebastian's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
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