I know there are still a lot of fans out there who want to downplay Hump's greatness/contributions this year as stats put up in a contract year, empty stats due to lack of supporting cast, etc and claim that he is not a great defender or rebounder.
Actually the best comment I have read about him not being a great rebounder is that he will fight off or jump over his own teammates as a sign that he is a selfish player and not a good teammate or efficient rebounder. That was probably the most illogical and naieve comment I have ever read - and was clearly posted by someone who has never played a game of basketball before in their life. Rebounding is an art and if you were to scan the boxscores of every basketball game, I bet that the team that wins the rebound battle (most total rebounds when summing up each player on both teams) wins the game. The great rebounders just see the ball and aggressively pursue the ball and will do whatever it takes to come down with the ball. This is not a mentality that can be taught - and is a mentality that every championship team NEEDS to have at least one player with on their roster.
Hump is now the 6th leading rebounder in the NBA on a RPG basis. However, unlike the 5 guys ahead of him on this list, he has not been a starter all season and has had games where he played very low minutes (minutes being devoted to Favors and Murphy and Joe Smith being starters early on). On a Rebounds Per Minute basis, Hump is actually tied for second with Dwight Howard at .37 minutes per game - with Kevin Love the leader at .43 Rebounds Per Minute.
It is not only conceivable, but highly likely, that Hump surpasses Pau Gasol for the 5th leading rebounder in the NBA this season. Whether fans want to admit this or not, Hump has become one of the most dominant rebounders in the entire league and is an essential cog in the wheel going forward. And unfortunately for the Nets, his price tag is increasing on a daily basis at this point.
But when you consider the importance of rebounding to a team with championship aspirations, he is quickly becoming an essential part in the Nets Big 3 of DWill, Lopez and Hump.
Anyone who believes that he is never going to be a starting caliber PF on a playoff/championship level team does not understand basketball. Assuming that Hump is the starting PF for a full season - he would average roughly 37 minutes per game (based on other starting PF average MPG) which would equate to 13.69 RPG (nearly 1 full RPG better than ZBo).
We have a starting Center who looks like he will be a lock for 23-25 PPG with DWill at the PG. We do not need a starting PF who can score 20 PPG. It is fair to assume that next season we have a PG in the Top 3 in Assists, a PF in the Top 3 in Rebounds and a Center in the Top 10-15 in scoring. That sounds like a pretty balanced Big 3 to me.
The best thing the Nets could do would be to anoint Hump the starter and resign him, make a move in the draft to get Kenny Faried as his backup at the PF (remember Hump can play at the 5 if needed) and concentrate on upgrading the SF position (which could become less of an issue depending on how Damion James develops over the course of the year). This team is not far off from being a Top 5 team in the East - and I think Deron Williams is quickly realizing that. The future is bright - and a lot of it starts with the players we have at the PF and Center positions.