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Isaac Humphries making defensive strides in second G League season
6'11 centre Isaac Humphries is quietly biding his time in the G League, hoping to earn an NBA recall. The 21 year old made his NBA debut late last season for the Atlanta Hawks, following a string of impressive performances with their G League affiliate - the Erie BayHawks. Hailing from Sydney's Sutherland Shire, Humphries has now found yet another new home with the Lakeland Magic, Orlando's G League offshoot.
Humphries has played 11 games with the Magic, with his last appearance on 6 December 2019, against the Greensboro Swarm, and he's delivered mixed results. The big man is averaging 10.7 points while shooting 46.2% from the field. For comparison, he averaged 11.3 points on 53.8% shooting in the previous season. Despite playing 26 minutes per game, an increase from last season's average of 21, Humphries' progress has stalled on the offensive end. However, eleven games is a small sample size. It's far too early to draw conclusions, and it wouldn't be a surprise if his shots start to fall as the season progresses.
Moreover, Humphries is shooting three-pointers at a 33.3% clip, which is on par with last season (33.7%). Nevertheless, the Sydney product has slightly increased his volume from 1.9 to 3.0 three-point attempts per game. Humphries' increased confidence from beyond the arc is an encouraging takeaway on the offensive end. This is the same Isaac Humphries who, as a Sydney King, attempted just one three-pointer throughout the entire 2017/18 NBL season.
Defence is the key
Humphries' defensive efforts paint a completely different picture. The lanky centre is currently averaging 2.0 blocks per game, doubling his number from last season. Also, his defensive rating has improved to 91.5, down from 104.2 in the previous season. Humphries is putting his size to good use by altering and blocking shots at the rim. See below for a collection of offensive and defensive highlights from one of Isaac's better games.
It should be noted that defensive stats often don't tell the whole story. Block totals firstly aren't a telltale indicator of interior defence - just ask former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, who averages a run-of-the-mill 1.2 blocks per game for his career. Furthermore, the defensive rating statistic is heavily influenced by the team's performance. Nonetheless, taking all of this into consideration, Humphries' new coach has trusted him to play increased minutes this season. The Australian's defensive play is most importantly passing the eye test, and hopefully his offence can rise to the same level eventually.
Humphries remains some way off receiving an NBA recall. Despite his defensive strides, he hasn't yet shown enough growth to command an NBA roster spot. The remainder of the G League season will be critical for the big man, who is also gunning for a Boomers jersey at the Tokyo Olympics. He will have his work cut out for him, as Aron Baynes and Andrew Bogut will be there, barring injuries. Jock Landale, currently in career-best form with European heavyweights Žalgiris Kaunas, is almost certainly next in line among Australian centres.