Kris Humphries was one of the lone bright spots for the Boston Celtics last season. The 28-year-old forward played in 69 games and averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds while having a 55.2 percent true shooting percentage. He will likely come off the bench next season for the Wizards after they acquired him in a sign-and-trade deal with Boston. Washington already has Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario to work opponents down low.
It’s a role previously filled by Trevor Booker, who left the Wizards for the Utah Jazz. Booker averaged 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds last season in Washington, leading the team in field goal percentage (55.1 percent) while grabbing a career-high 379 total rebounds. The 6-foot-8 forward scored 10 or more points in 24 games and had five double-doubles.
So is this an upgrade for Washington?
According to the advanced stats, Booker was credited with 4.3 win shares for the Wizards last season with a true shooting percentage of 56.3 percent, slightly more than Humphries (55.2 percent), who comes to D.C. off a 4.1 win-share campaign. But Humphries used a larger percentage of plays than Booker, drew more fouls and grabbed more defensive rebounds.
Offensively, Booker is the better shooter in the restricted area, but Humphries has the edge when shooting mid-range jumpers. Neither is a threat to shoot three-pointers.
Overall, their respective teams scored and allowed the same amount of points per 100 possessions when they were on the court, suggesting the question of who’s the better player is too close to call.
But it isn’t.
According to ESPN’s Real Plus Minus, which measures a player’s estimated on-court impact on team performance while taking into account teammates, opponents and additional factors, Humphries has the edge, despite both players being in the negative last season. Humphries had a RPM of minus-1.68 while Booker checked in at minus-3.34.
In addition, Humphries provides better defense in terms of reducing the effectiveness of shots from the field. Below are their respective adjusted defensive impact graph during the 2013-14 regular season. Warm colors (red and orange) indicate that offensive players shoot better when the player in question is on the court. Blue colors indicate the opposite and as you can see, the advantage, again, goes to Humphries.
Humphries is the better player, but there is one other factor to be concerned about: chemistry. How does Humphries impact those around him?
When he shared the court with Rajon Rondo or Jerryd Bayless (two of his most frequent linemates last season), Boston saw a drop in their points per possession. And with Rondo it was a big drop.
Booker, on the other hand, wasn’t an anchor for the young back court of John Wall and Bradley Beal last season. In fact, they did better with Booker on the hardwood than without him.
For a team like the Wizards, which relies so heavily on the play from their guards, Humphries’s dampening effect seems concerning.
“The one thing I know is that in the time that I play I can be efficient and help people win,” Humphries said.
Perhaps, but it will be much more difficult if the Wizards’ back court is hampered by sharing time with Humphries on the court.