Mike Budenholzer didn't waste any time throwing Kris Humphries directly into the mix for the Atlanta Hawks. Through six games, he has given them exactly what they needed which was a big body who isn't afraid to mix it up inside to help out on the boards.
Humphries has become the team's primary big man reserve off the bench replacing the injured Tiago Splitter. In 17.5 minutes, he is averaging 7.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Humphries' value goes beyond his numbers. With Splitter gone, Atlanta desperately needed another veteran option inside defensively and Humphries has given them that so far.
"The biggest thing is we're feeling his rebounding ability," Mike Budenholzer said when asked to describe the impact Humphries has had on the team. "He lays a body on guys. He's able to finish possessions. I think we've been very good defensively, but we need to improve on the boards. When you watch the film and you're watching the game, you feel him on the boards. He's getting more comfortable in what we want to do. Offensively he's finding ways to contribute too. But I think defensively, just his rebounding and his physicality are really helping."
His physicality and rebounding have seemed to be infectious with his teammates as well as Atlanta has been mixing it up with teams of late. While Humphries is still getting up to speed offensively, he has shown a nice pick and pop game from midrange and is willing to pull the trigger from three-point range as well.
Humphries real value is on the boards however and he has been a strong rebounder throughout his career. Atlanta is currently 27th in the league in rebounding but are 15th since March 4 which coincides with Humphries' on-court debut.
In this clip above, Humphries defends the post and then blocks out a bigger player to secure the defensive board. That may seem elementary in a lot of ways, but for a rebounding deficient team like Atlanta, his physicality inside is a huge boost.
This play is even more indicative of what Humphries has brought to the table. Just watch how many times his body bangs into opposing defenders on this pair of possessions. He appears to get away with a push in the back on the first offensive rebound, but the point is that he never stops pursuing the basketball. His hustle and determination here got Atlanta a couple of more possessions and opportunities to score.
Six games is a small sample size for sure but it is notable that Atlanta has gone 5-1 since Humphries' debut. So far, the returns have been nothing but positive.