In an interview with Celtics.com, Celtics forward Kris Humphries says he thinks he'll play some center next year for a small-ball Boston squad. MassLive.com took a look at what the Nets looked like with Humphries at center. In short, great offense, poor defense.
And regardless of which four smaller players surrounded Center Kris in 2011-12, the Nets were an offensive juggernaut -- especially impressive because that season, they stunk at scoring the basketball. The sample isn't large enough to be reliable, but the numbers are staggering. Over 109 minutes between the six most-used lineups with Humphries at center, the Nets featured a 115.04 offensive rating. For reference: If that were continued throughout the whole season, it would have been the most efficient scoring attack in NBA history. At center, too, Humphries was brilliant individually. According to 82Games.com, he finished the 2011-12 season with a fantastic 25.4 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) at the position. And if you look back at his three years with the Nets (when he came into his own), the pattern holds true: the team hardly ever used Humphries at center, but any lineup with him there generally scored very well, and his individual production exploded.
Of course, there are reasons we probably won't see much of Humphries at center in a small lineup. Firstly: The Celtics really like Sullinger and Olynyk, two young big men likely to play major roles. Stevens will also need to find time for Bass and Faverani -- at least if the latter's any good. Humphries, due to all the reasons I mentioned earlier, could become the odd man out.
Furthermore -- and not surprisingly -- lineups with Humphries in the middle bleed points to opponents. While those numbers come with an alert (sample size too small!), he's never been known as a good help defender. He's not a shot-blocker, either, and his teams tend to allow more points when he's on the court. Brooklyn was pitiful defensively last season with Humphries in the lineup. His shortcomings hurt especially when he's a center in a tiny unit; generally, nobody's near the basket to erase his teammates' mistakes. Given how Green, the probable power forward in small lineups, has a similar reputation as a poor defender, the two, if paired together, might concede dunks and layups all day.
After trading Fab Melo, the Celtics really only have rookie Kelly Olynyk as a "true center." Otherwise, they're going to be relying on power forwards, and a lot of undersized ones. That means rebounding trouble (which has plagued them for years) and problems protecting the rim. Of course, there's no way to know if Humphries or anyone on the roster will be there the entire year, so a center could be acquired. But right now, as the Celtics try and talk everyone into believing they're not taking, they're going to be awfully exposed inside.