Something I realized last night while watching this game was that a lot of fans would have been very happy signing David Lee to a long term deal to be our PF of the future this summer. People questioned his defense and his jumper which progressed/improved every year that he was in the league. Lee was drafted by a horrible Knicks team and really never had any competition in front of him at the PF or Center position, and was basically the Knicks featured player so his development was early on in his career. He also played heavy minutes over the majority of his tenure with the Knicks. David Lee signed a near max contract this summer with Golden State.
Kris was drafted after 1 year of college and has had the misfortune of playing behind some pretty elite NBA PFs in the early part of his career - Carlos Boozer (max player), Chris Bosh (max player) and Dirk Nowitzki (max player) and played relataively limited minutes before coming to the Nets last season. People question his defense, but has definitely improved immensely this season - and he has had some very memorable blocks (last night possibly saved the game with that blocked shot on Wright). He is a better rebounder than David Lee. His jump shot has definitely improved since coming to the Nets and if Kevin Love did not have a historic season - Hump would very well be a favorite for Most Improved honors.
Tale of the Tape:
Kris - 6'9'', 235 pounds, just turned 26
Lee - 6'9'', 240 pounds (much less imposiing of a build than Hump), 27 years old
A lot of people want to downplay what Hump has done this year as being done in a contract year, on a bad team, etc etc etc.....but the guy just turned 26 years old and is getting his FIRST shot at consistent playing time in the NBA. Hump is already a better rebounder and defender than David Lee and his jump shot is coming along. Having played limited minutes early in his career (and with a short collegiate career) is actually a positive - as it means that he does not have the high mileage on his body that many NBA PFs have as they enter their mid to late 20s.
Combined with what looks to be an evolving chemistry with Deron Williams and a desire to be here in NJ/Brooklyn - it blows my mind that people look at him as an energy guy off the bench. This guy is developing into a legit starting caliber PF and is going to be a reliable double-double machine on a nightly basis - especially when combined with DWill finding him for easy buckets.
Unfortunately, nobody in the organization saw this coming and failed to sign him to an extension LAST summer as he would have been one of the biggest long term values in the league. My guess is that Hump commands $8m per year and is going to be a legit double-double threat at the PF positoin for the next 5-7 years (barring injury).
The talk of David West, Zach Randolph, etc makes little sense. Hump is going to provide similiar production, and is 3-4 years younger, with much less mileage on his legs at a far more reasonable contract. Plus he has become a fan favorite in NJ and wants to be here. There are much worse decisions that could be made than making Hump our PF of the future to pair with Brook and Deron - and to focus on upgrading our SF position with that money instead.