Kris Humphries' Breakout Season and the Kim Kardashian Effect

Joey Rotunno@@joeyrotunnoCorrespondent IIMarch 21, 2011

Kris Humphries drives to the hole on Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors.
Kris Humphries drives to the hole on Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors.Julian Finney/Getty Images

Unless you’re a New Jersey Nets fan or an NBA fantasy buff like me, chances are you haven’t noticed forward Kris Humphries’ performance on the court.

If you’re a fiend for celebrity gossip, you probably know him off the court as Kim Kardashian’s latest boy toy in a string of athletes and entertainers she’s been linked to. Humphries is quietly having a breakout season averaging 9.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting 53 percent from the field.

Following a brief but stellar career at the University of Minnesota where he averaged a robust 21.7 points and 10.1 rebounds as a freshman, Humphries was selected 14th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2004 NBA Draft.

While domination at the Division I level does not always translate to immediate NBA success, it appeared that a physical specimen such as Humphries was destined for NBA stardom at the ripe age of 19.

Quite the contrary, Humphries became a career journeyman, spending his first two seasons in Utah buried on the bench followed by three more dismal years with the Toronto Raptors.

After a 25-game stint with the Dallas Mavericks to begin the 2009-10 campaign, Humphries was shipped off to the New Jersey Nets for the remainder of the season. There, he saw just under 21 minutes per game in 44 contests, averaging a respectable 8.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as a backup.

Humphries assumed the same role this season, but due to injuries, he became a regular starter by the eighth game. Over the course of the next 27 games, Humphries averaged a solid 8.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, offering a glimpse of what he’s capable of given ample playing time.

Despite these numbers, the coaching staff opted to abruptly replace Humphries in the starting lineup to foster the development of rookie power forward Derrick Favors. This move would prove to be short-lived, as Favors was sent to the Jazz in the blockbuster Deron Williams trade just prior to the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

By Feb. 25, Humphries resumed his starting position and has been a monster ever since. In the 11 games he’s started following the acquisition of Williams, Humphries has put up 15.1 points, 14.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks on a nightly basis.

He holds a current streak of 10 straight double-doubles, including four outings where he narrowly missed 20 points and 20 rebounds. While this is no Kevin Love-like feat, Humphries is finally coming into his own and establishing himself as the Nets power forward of the future.

You can chalk this up to talent, gelling with point guard Deron Williams, or simply luck, but one cannot help but wonder what effect the Kim Kardashian factor is having on Humphries as well.

Recently, the digital world has been abuzz over Kardashian’s remarks about wanting her child to resemble Humphries, as well as rumors of a Twitter engagement announcement. Stop for a minute, and put yourself in Humphries’ shoes. Wouldn’t your confidence also be through the roof if you had every man’s ultimate fantasy by your side?

I’m not certain how much truth there is to the theory that dating a famous beautiful woman mimics performance-enhancing drugs, but it sure has got me thinking. Will A-Rod return to MVP form this year as a result of his romance with actress Cameron Diaz? We’ll have to wait and see, but I lay odds as long as she’s still feeding him popcorn, he’ll perform exceptionally.