Before the season started, it was clear that the Celtics had five big men that all deserved some sort of playing time. They were: Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, and Vitor Faverani.
Bass and Humphries were the veterans, while Olynyk, Sully and Vitor were the young guns who needed to learn on the fly.
However, four games in - only four of the players are getting a legit look.
Bass has played 127 minutes (31.8 MPG).
Faverani has played 110 minutes (27.5 MPG).
Olynyk has played 81 minutes (20.3 MPG).
Sullinger has played 45 minutes (15 MPG - suspended for the 1st game).
Humphries has played 21 minutes (all in the first game while Sullinger was suspended).
So the question becomes, why isn't Humphries playing at all now that the other four guys are all eligible to play?
Was it that he played badly vs. Toronto? Nope. Humphries scored 8 points (on 4 shots) and grabbed 9 boards in just 21 minutes of action. He was actually one of the Cs better players against the Raptors.
The reason has nothing to do with Hump's skill set, and everything to do with other factors. Part of it is because the team has three young bigs they need to get a look at, so playing a veteran doesn't make a ton of sense. But at the same time, Bass is leading the team in minutes from a big, and he's the same age as Humphries (28). Hump is also losing quite a bit of playing time to Gerald Wallace, who leads the team at 34 MPG, some of those minutes at the 4 (with Jeff Green playing the 3).
Of course, Bass and Wallace are signed past this season - so the Celtics are rightly keeping them involved and trying to raise their trade value. But why wouldn't the same go for Humphries? Sure, his deal is expiring soon..but Humphries isn't likely to be worth anything to the Celtics as an expiring contract in trade negotiations. After all, when you're trading a player as an expiring contract, the deal is almost always in exchange for a big money player who has more time left on his deal. For example when Theo Ratliff was used to acquire KG, or Wally Szczerbiak being used to acquire Ray Allen. In those cases the Celtics packaged an expiring deal with other assets to bring in a star. But in this case, that's extremely unlikely to happen. The Celtics are all in on seeing how the 2014 draft lottery turns out, and won't be acquiring any big name players before they see if another star is heading their way via the draft. So the odds of using Hump in an "expiring contract + assets for a star" type deal are very slim.
|Ratliff's (left) expiring deal was crucial to the Cs acquiring KG|
Instead, Humphries value lies in what he is as a player. And when he plays - he's pretty damn solid. His 8 point, 9 rebound performance in 21 minutes vs Toronto was just about the perfect example of his abilities as a player. Since 2010, when the then 25-year-old Humphries broke out with the Nets, he has averaged 13.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per-36 minutes of action. Extremely impressive rates. Even last year, when he was benched for Reggie Evans, Hump still managed 11.3 points and 11 boards per-36 minutes. He wasn't so much benched as that he happened to be replaced by perhaps the best rebounder in the NBA.
That's why I just don't understand the Celtics use of him so far. He's a good player, and continues to prove that every time he plays. Yet he's just sitting on the bench, gathering dust and decreasing his value in a trade. After all, players do not improve their trade value by not playing. Just doesn't happen. But if Hump was playing even 15 minutes a night and putting up numbers, you may see a team offer something up for him.
Obviously there's also the other elephant in the room: are the Celtics not playing Humphries because he'll help them win games, and that's against their plan? And this is valid. Coming from someone who'd love nothing more than for the team to play hard, yet lose 60 games - I definitely understand the thinking. Humphries is a better player than Olynyk right now, but does that really serve the team's interests? On the one hand you can play Hump, raise his trade value, and have a better shot at winning games. But on the other you can play the rookie, position yourself better for the '14 draft lottery, and also help groom an important part of the team's future.
So to a certain extent I get it. But I also see the Celtics playing Jordan Crawford, who no one thinks has a future with the organization, over Phil Pressey, a young PG who the organization should probably take a look at - especially while Rondo is out. So maybe the organizational philosophy isn't quite as easy to pinpoint as we think.
The bottom-line is that there are legitimate reasons not to play Hump - but I still think they should make an effort to get him involved. He has value to the team on the court, and potential value to the organization as a trade chip, and while he sits on the bench they are getting nothing out of him. The team could easily cut back on Wallace's 34 MPG and Bass' 32 MPG and carve out some time for Humphries while still getting Olynyk, Faverani and Sullinger the necessary playing time to grow as players. It's never a good idea to bury an asset on the bench, and that's what Boston is doing right now. Give the Hump-man 15 MPG, watch him pile up really good rate stats, and if no one bites by the deadline..you cut back on the playing time of Bass/Wallace and Humphries while getting the young guns as many touches as possible.
NOTE: Other possibility - Stevens is a huge Kim K fan and is just pissed that things didn't work out between the two of them. Odds this is the case: 18 billion to 1.
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For more of my articles, click here Michael Dyer 11/05/2013 04:36:00 PM Tweet