For Kris Humphries to retain his minutes in the future with the Wizards, he realizes where he has to expand his game in the same way Drew Gooden re-invented himself by becoming a three-point shooter.
"I never really worked on shooting threes and stuff. I started working on it this year," said Humphries, a power forward who has a mid-range game and doesn't play much with his back to the basket on offense. "I had a lot of success in the last month (practicing) or so I really working on it every day, continue to work on it next year, add to my game."
Humphries has made just two in his career and those game as a rookie in 2004-05. He was 0-for-7 in his first season in Washington. After the Wizards' season ended in an Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks, coach Randy Wittman insisted that playing smaller and faster, meaning using more stretch shooters such as Gooden and Paul Pierce (if he returns) at Humphries' spot, is imperative to be a championship team.
"I never really got up the attempts or really put the focus on it. Maybe the way this team has been playing I will," Humphries said. "It's only a couple feet difference from where I shoot it really well right now."
While Humphries is a solid rebounder, the spacing on the floor changed for the Wizards after their 31-15 start. The mid-range game didn't work as well and opponents took it away. When they flourished in the playoffs, dealing with the small-ball lineups of the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta that shredded them during the regular season, the Wizards went with Gooden as the backup to Nene. It changed both series and made the Wizards competitive against the No. 1 seed Hawks despite losing John Wall for three games with a broken left wrist.
Humphries had missed 17 games late in the season because of a left groin strain and despite getting minutes initially to play his way back in the rotation he couldn't. Conditioning was an issue, too.
"It didn't help," said Humphries, who averaged 8.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 64 appearances. "I can tell you that much. It's one of those things you just sit back and think about. It's tough to see things that you can do to help and not be out there. It's a game. You got to support your teammates."
The Wizards were so successful in sweeping Toronto, who'd beaten them in all three regular-season games, they stuck with Gooden as the rotations tightened as expected. More of the offense ran through Marcin Gortat with pick-and-rolls with Wall while Nene focused on rebounding and doing more of the dirty work.
But the series with Atlanta changed in Game 5 when Al Horford's buzzer-beating putback gave them a 3-2 edge. He stormed in to snag the offensive rebound from Nene who shouldered much of the blame. Nene, however, followed the ball into the paint on a drive by Dennis Schroder and had to seal Paul Millsap, who had gotten inside of Pierce for rebounding position. Horford had an unobstructed run at full-speed to recoup Schroder's miss.
The sequence was difficult to watch for Humphries. He only appeared in garbage time of Game 4 in the first round and never played in the second round.
"Any time you're a guy who's been a great rebounder your whole career and you see them kind of beating you on hustle plays, stuff around the bucket, it's tough," said Humphries. "I thought I handled it well. It's frustrating. You want your team to win. You want to advance as far as possible, knowing that you've been an integral part of what the team was doing all year so I think it throws you for a loop. It's tough. It's the NBA. Got to prepare for anything. Move forward."
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