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News » Strong push for a larger role New big man shoves his way into the battle for minutes in middle

Strong push for a larger role New big man shoves his way into the battle for minutes in middle

Strong push for a larger role New big man shoves his way into the battle for minutes in middle UNIVERSITY PARK - Big men are going to take the spotlight for the Mavericks in the next few weeks, starting tonight at a scrimmage during the Fan Jam festivities.

And it's not just Drew Gooden and Erick Dampier who will spend the preseason battling for playing time at center.

It's Kris Humphries, too. He's a power forward by trade, but he has the size and physical nature to play center.

Quality has always been an issue for the Mavericks at center. Quantity won't be a problem this season.

"Competition for minutes at the big positions is stiff," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We've got a lot of guys who are experienced."

Humphries in particular has been a surprise during the early days of training camp. Acquired in the Shawn Marion trade, the 6-9, 235-pounder from Minnesota has spent five years in the NBA with Utah and Toronto and has fought through some fluke injuries, like the broken fibula he suffered early last season when he was kneed in the leg.

So far this fall, there have been nothing but rave reviews from the Mavericks .

"Kris Humphries has really impressed me," Jason Terry said. "He's a physical force inside, but he has an outside touch. He has a high Basketball IQ. He's been a surprise."

The crowded situation at center and power forward, where some guy named Nowitzki figures to get most of the playing time, is not unique for the Mavericks .

They have proven players two deep at every position. And in some cases, three deep. But centers who can contribute haven't always been plentiful. For the past few seasons, it's mostly been Dampier and a collection of power forwards who would slide over to play center, although DeSagana Diop also earned time there before he was traded.

Gooden has been playing with the first team, but Dampier also could start. They will split the bulk of the time. Humphries' ability to play physical, as well as hit mid-range jump shots, makes him an intriguing option.

Humphries was taught he needs to do a little bit of everything to survive at power forward.

"Energy, run the floor, rebound, defend," he said, "and set good screens.

"The typical [power forward] is a guy who can move, shoot the floor and put it on the floor - unless you're talking about 10 years ago. But the way Basketball is headed now, there aren't many guys who are true post players anymore. There are not a lot of guys who play with their back to the basket."

Carlisle has been impressed by Humphries if for no other reason than he is a different power forward than everybody else he has.

"He's a physical kid, an underrated player," Carlisle said. "He's had some ill-timed injury situations the last couple years. But he had a strong summer and he picks things up very quickly. He's definitely capable. He gives us some more size and strength at that position."

The broken fibula early last season derailed Humphries' growth. He thought the injury was worse when he was kneed, but in this instance, a broken bone was far better than a torn ligament.

As for having raised eyebrows so far in camp, Humphries is trying not to get carried away.

"I want to play as good as I can and earn a role," he said. "But our focus is so strong on what we're doing, it's not about who's doing this and that. We're still focusing on team defense. If you get into who's getting attention, it takes away from what we're trying to do."

For now, the key for Humphries is to keep doing what he does best, which is a little bit of everything.

Day in camp

Thursday: The Mavericks went through drills in the morning and had a scrimmage in the evening, similar to today's schedule, with a workout in the morning and the Fan Jam at 7 p.m. at American Airlines Center.

One of the biggest issues in camp is the recovery of Josh Howard, who has stayed quiet about the situation. Coach Rick Carlisle was enthusiastic about Howard's progress after off-season ankle surgery.

"I would say he's on schedule," Carlisle said.

Looking ahead: The Fan Jam is tonight, and Carlisle said he's looking forward to showing the fans something. "We've mixed the teams every day so far - the reason being that we have a lot of different guys who need to get a feel for playing with each other," he said. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Parking is $5 and admission is free for fans.

Spotlight on ... injuries: J.J. Barea had shoulder surgery during the summer and Tim Thomas had minor knee surgery last week. Barea said his shoulder isn't 100 percent, but it's not far from it. Thomas said Thursday he's on pace for a 3-to-6 week recovery.

Kris Humphries

Position: F-C

Height, weight: 6-9, 235

College: Minnesota

Age: 24

Experience: Five seasons

Notable: Came to the Mavericks from Toronto as part of the four-team trade that also brought Shawn Marion. ... Averaging 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.6 minutes per game in his career. ... Limited to 29 games last season because of a broken fibula. ... Older sister, Kaela, was a member of the University of Texas swim team.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 3, 2009


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