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When the Celtics traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, they received several first-round draft picks in return. Players were exchanged, too—so salaries would match up—but they were an afterthought.
Kris Humphries was one of them, and he’s anything but an afterthought now. The 29-year-old power forward led Boston with an impressive 18.2 PER, which doubled as his career high.
Given his age and expiring contract, Humphries wasn’t pegged to be a piece in Boston’s rebuild. He began the season out of Brad Stevens’ rotation and looked satisfied riding the bench until a campaign every Celtic wanted to end finally did.
Instead, Humphries started 30 games, played over 1,300 minutes and was Boston’s main source of rim protection. His tireless effort on the offensive glass helped the Celtics become one of the NBA’s better teams in that area, and when Rajon Rondo returned from his anterior cruciate ligament injury, Humphries helped immediately create an on-court chemistry, particularly with how the two worked a pick-and-roll.
Don’t be surprised if the unrestricted free agent is in a Celtics jersey again next season. It'll only be a two or three-year deal (with a team option on the third year, most likely), but Humphries has shown immense value as a backup power forward.
All statistics in this article are from Basketball-Reference.com or NBA.com/Stats (subscription required) unless otherwise noted.
Michael Pina covers the NBA for Bleacher Report, ESPN’s TrueHoop Network, Sports On Earth, Fox Sports, Grantland and The Classical. His writing can be found here. Follow him @MichaelVPina.