Through 57 games last season, Kris Humphries did his job and did it well. In the 58th game, the Washington Wizards power forward with a rebounding knack and a steady mid-range jumper suffered a groin injury. He eventually returned, but his role really never did.
Humphries averaged 21 minutes per game during the regular season. Other than All-Star John Wall, nobody on the Washington Wizards was better at their role during those first 57 games.
In the playoffs, the 11-year veteran played five minutes. Not per game. Five minutes total over 10 contests.
Humphries wasn't benched. Coach Randy Wittman tightened the rotation. The rotation included Drew Gooden, who emerged when the injury kept Humphries in street clothes for one month. Gooden's 3-point range kept him on the court in the postseason against the Raptors and Hawks.
Conversations with Wittman took place about his role. As far as Humphries is concerned, that was then. The 2015-16 season is here.
"We talked at the end of the year," Humphries said. "I'm kind of looking at this as a new opportunity. Last year, a lot of things come into play. Getting hurt at the end of last year. We can't really focus on last year. It's more about what we got starting [this week]."
Two new scenarios will come into play. One involves shooting from distance. That's not exactly what he's known for -- Humphries last made a 3-pointer during the 2004-05 season -- but something he worked on throughout the offseason.
The other scenario is more familiar, though hardly a constant during his first season in Washington. Kevin Seraphin's exit left available minutes behind starting center Marcin Gortat. Nene likely picks up a few and perhaps a trimmer DeJuan Blair emerges after sitting most of last season. Though not considered a true rim protector, the 6-foot-9 Humphries likely spends some time at center as well.
"I've been playing five, four. I came into the league playing some three, though that's a long time ago. I think I'm skilled enough to do a lot of different things and physical enough to play under the bucket," Humphries said. "There are really only a couple of guys at center that teams really worry about, that you have to shift your defense for and all teams have issues with those couple of guys. I've played center. I've play four. We'll see what happens."
Here's one thing we can assume will happen this season: Kris Humphries is back in the regular rotation. The evolution with his shot and position may determine how many minutes he receives for the suddenly small-ball thinking Wizards -- and whether he keeps his role should the Wizards return to the playoffs for a third straight year.