Bryan Colangelo knew how to make a splash. And what better way to start his tenure with the Raptors than to get rid of Rafael Araujo, a draft bust and whipping boy from the Rob Babcock era. Apparently, Colangelo had been trying to dump Araujo to the Jazz since his first day in the office. In this, he made the right decision.
At the time, Toronto’s fanbase probably thought that the Raptors couldn’t even trade Araujo for a paperclip on Craigslist. The thought of getting something in return was a win for Colangelo and the Raptors in general, regardless of what they got back. As it happened, though, the Jazz had a player somewhat matching Araujo’s salary who was also in coach Jerry Sloan’s dog house. Historically, once there, players didn’t fare well in Sloan’s doghouse.
That player was Kris Humphries, a late lottery pick for the Jazz and one seen as expendable with Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, and Mehmet Okur around. Humphries did not just lose his opportunity to play and improve, but also his confidence. On top of that, the deal for Humphries had then-Raptors coach Sam Mitchell’s endorsement. Mitchell lived in Minnesota and got to see a young Humphries play and liked his potential. The stage was set for… something.
His Raptors Run
Much like in Utah, Humphries was behind a couple of higher-profile players on their depth chart. Chris Bosh’s stardom was on the rise, and coach Mitchell had to play Bargnani as per instructions from the top. Humphries had to settle in and try to be an impact player every chance he got on the floor.
While in Toronto, Humphries had a couple of noteworthy games, including:
Detroit Pistons, April 13, 2007 – Humphries was the X-Factor off the bench, hauling 18 rebounds against a 50+win Pistons team that had Rasheed Wallace, Chris Webber, Antonio McDyess, and young Amir Johnson.
In three seasons, Kris Humphries averaged 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in under 12 minutes. Consistent minutes were hard to come by, as Mitchell had to play Bargnani a lot. An emergency appendectomy procedure shut down Andrea Bargnani’s season in 2007, and we got the full Humphries experience — for better or worse.
On the plus side, Humphries’ tenure as a Raptor was as advertised — he’s a blue-collar hustle guy that demonstrated great motor, strength, and athleticism.
In transition, Humphries was a freight train and emphatic dunker. He’s a brute force in the paint, but also has no problem getting physical on the defensive end. Humphries had a decent touch around the 15-foot area, but that part of his game was inconsistent, reflecting his mediocre free-throw shooting (he only passed 70% FT shooting once in his first seven seasons).
Offensively, Humphries demonstrated that he had a nice touch around the basket while showing decent footwork and strength to hold his defensive position around the paint. He was also always in play for rebound opportunities.
Now, all of these things sound good. Looking at Humphries’ season stats for the Raptors — without seeing him play — would maybe have one asking why he did not play more. (Humphries never played more than 13.2 minutes per game in three season.)
I did not know what it was then, but the term “irrational confidence” describes Humphries’ mentality on the offensive end. He was a polarizing player. For every good thing we saw, there came a downside.
One of the fanbase’s nicknames for him was the “Vortex.” Cruel perhaps, but apt as it felt like once Humphries got the ball, his teammates were unlikely to get it back. His inflated sense of himself and his skillset, and the small window of opportunity he had to showcase it, drove Humphries to do way too much, far too often.
Humphries’ earlier reputation of being too concerned about his stats would rear its ugly head now and then too, as he would sometimes fight his teammates for rebounds (not Bargnani) and break from the offense to look for his shot. Suddenly, Sloan’s distate for Humphries’ game made a lot of sense. In that, the Raptors got rid of one problem (Araujo) but created another.
The Wikipedia Fun-Fact Deep-Dive
If you can believe this, Kris Humphries had a short-lived blog via The Globe and Mail with Michael Grange called “Ask Hump!” where he answered some fan questions. It was raw, unapologetic, and funny — something uncommon before the players started taking advantage of social media to enhance their brand. This is not exactly something to be found on Wikipedia but it’s too good not to note here. Also, it opens the door on a whole other essay for a different time.
Away from the keyboard, it turns out Humphries was among the strongest athletes in his class, tying Emeka Okafor for the most bench press (22 reps @ 185lbs) during the 2004 Draft Combine. Look at that — brains and brawn.
Unfortunately Humphries’ highlight plays as a Raptor happened in the early internet/pre-social media days, so a lot of his stellar plays are either non-existent or grainy. Here’s a mix that sums up his offensive skill set:
But my favourite Hump/Rap related bit is this:
Getting blocked by a ref on a free throw? Astounding!
Where Are They Now?
Humphries bounced around after the Raptors traded him to the Mavs in the summer of 2009 as part of the multi-team Hedo Turkoglu sign-and-trade. He eventually got a nice run with the New Jersey Nets, playing alongside a bit more motivated version of Bargnani in Brook Lopez.
Humphries also had stops in Dallas, Boston, Phoenix, and last checked in as a Hawk in 2017. With injuries robbing him of his athleticism and a failed attempt to transition as a stretch four, he eventually retired. From there, Humphries pretty much stayed away from the limelight — having learned a very important lesson in that regard — and focusing on his business ventures.
Yes, we always made it to the end of this column without having to reference Kris’ second life as a reality show add-on. We can only assume that Humphries’ confidence in himself went once again too far, leading to a humbling at the hands of the merciless Kardashian machine. It’s a tough business all around.