The returns have been diminishing with Kris Humphries, even though he's now a starter with the Wizards as he struggles to reprogram his way of thinking. What he's best at -- rebounding -- has been largely absent heading into tonight's game vs. the San Antonio Spurs (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).
"He needs to crash the boards," coach Randy Wittman said after Tuesday's practice. "There's no in-between. The four (power forward) and five (center) can crash the boards no matter where they're at."
After three games, Humphries has a total of 12 rebounds for a 4.0 average. The result has been after playing 26 minutes in the opener, he has been limited to 14 and 15 minutes in each of the last two games. In his first season with the Wizards a year ago when coming off the bench, Humphries averaged 6.5 rebounds.
The reason: In the newly arranged offense, designed by Wittman to increase pace and incorporating a "stretch" power forward, Humphries is staying on the perimeter to shoot threes. Since turning pro in 2004, Humphries has never played around the arc. He's 2-for-5 on three-pointers this season. That equals the makes he had from long range in his career.
"Didn't feel good (Saturday) night," Humphries said of being out of sync in a 117-110 home-opening loss to the New York Knicks. "We lost, that's the first thing. The flow. I think sometimes I get caught on the perimeter watching. Got to get in there and mix it up.
"If you're on the perimeter and you're not used to being out there, you're used to being in there and mixing it up with people, gives you energy and stuff like that. ... You got to get yourself going."
Drew Gooden has come off the bench and took a large share of the minutes. He hasn't shied away from getting in the trenches to do the dirty work. He had a double-double with 11 rebounds in Saturday's loss. He has outrebounded Humphries, too (19-12).
"We worked on a lot of times in the game, I was the last guy down at the top of key and I didn't feel comfortable going to the (offensive) boards from there," Humphries said of what he has been the emphasis with him at practice the last few days. "Being the last guy and not feeling we're going to get back, but today we really made an emphasis of one through three (point guard, shooting guard, small forward) getting back on defense and four and five going to the glass. See if that helps a little bit.
"I'll feel more comfortable if someone drives. I kind of feel like I'm out of the play (otherwise), being able to go in there, try to track a rebound or something like that."
Told of Humphries' comments that he feels a need to rush back on defense and play safety valve, Wittman said that's a mental block that he has to overcome.
"He don't need to be. That's my concern," Wittman said. "He's out on the perimeter a lot more but that's sometimes the easiest time to get an offensive rebound. We can't lose sight of that fact. You don't get hit. People don't try to block you out. Drew has done a good job of that. It's easy to sit there and watch it rather than go attack it from that position. He's got to keep that in mind."