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Daniel Murphy is clutch

April 28, 2011 Leave a comment

You ever the get the feeling when you’re watching a Mets game that the batter will hit a home run on the next pitch?

Well, I can’t say this is completely true about last night, but I was pretty close.

After the debacle of a call by Marvin Hudson that erased Jose Reyes’ one-out triple, the Mets could have easily folded, just like they’ve been accustomed to doing over the last few years.

That’s the type of call that forces some players to say, “Not tonight boys, we’ll get them tomorrow.”

Daniel Murphy stepped in with two outs and no one on base against a pitcher in Tyler Clippard who has been dominant in the late innings, especially against the Mets.

For some reason, I knew Murphy was going to get a big hit. He kept fouling pitches off, waiting for one he can drive.

On the pitch before he went deep, I said to myself this one is it. And sure enough, another foul.

Then Clippard left a change-up straight down the middle and up in the zone, and Murphy clobbered it.

That is easily the biggest hit of the Mets season so far, and hopefully we can expect many more of those out of Murphy.

Though he was a little late covering second base in the next inning, these are the types of growing pains we will have to deal with as he continues to learn the position. However, if he keeps driving in big runs with clutch hits, I’m sure we can forgive him for some minor defensive lapses.

The great thing about Murphy is that he doesn’t settle for just one come-from-behind win. You can tell that he wants to win every single game he plays.

As we approach the end of April, this winning attitude can hopefully further resonate with the players. The Mets have a big road series in Philadelphia this weekend, so gutting out these gritty wins will be crucial.

This may be a tad premature, but get those pens out and start writing “Daniel Murphy” on the bottom of your All-Star ballot. Current Colorado Rockie, Brad Emaus, represents the Mets at second base on the ballot, so Murphy will have to be a write-in.

In other news, congratulations to Brooklyn-boy, Pedro Beato, for picking up his first Major League win. Also, the Jason Bay winning streak extends to six. Let’s not forget that he started off the ninth inning rally with a single up the middle.

Keep up the exciting play, Mets, and Citi Field will be packed for the next homestand.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

Categories: MLB Tags: ,

NBA Playoff Preview: New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics

April 16, 2011 9 comments

The Eastern Conference playoffs tip-off Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. as the No. 3 seed Boston Celtics (56-26) host the No. 6 New York Knicks (42-40) at the TD Garden.

The Celtics are the defending Eastern Conference champions and are hoping to defend that title. Meanwhile, the Knicks will be making their first postseason appearance since being swept in the first round by the New Jersey Nets in 2004.

Boston won all four games in this year’s season series, including the final game of the regular season. The Celtics, however, are limping into the playoffs, having lost three of their last five games.

Though the Knicks played worse than expected since acquiring Carmelo Anthony, they will look to get hot at the right time.

Playoff History

The upcoming series marks the 13th time the Knicks and Celtics have met in the playoffs. The teams are knotted up at six series win apiece. The last time the teams met, the Knicks defeated the Celtics 3-2 in the first round of the 1990 playoffs.

Key Matchups/Strategies

This series will feature many talented scorers who can light up the scoreboard on any given night. The Knicks are known as an offensive team and finished second in the NBA, averaging 106.5 points per game. While the Celtics can also score, Boston held its opponents to an NBA-low 91.1 points per game.

The Knicks’ top two scorers, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, combined to average 51.6 points per game, which is 16.2 points higher than the Celtics’ top two in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. However, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo provide more than enough offensive punch to make up the deficit.

Kevin Garnett is downright scary.

Rebounding could be a determining factor in this series. The Celtics only pulled down 38.8 boards per game—second worst in the NBA. The Knicks in turn gave up 44.0 rebounds per game, which was the third highest mark in the league. Something’s got to give here, but New York will get burnt if they give up second and third chances on Boston’s possessions.

Boston has big game players, plain and simple. Garnett always elevates his game during the playoffs, and even Stoudemire may have trouble defending KG’s scoring ability. Rondo averaged 11.2 assists per game, second only to Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. If he continues to set up his weapons, Pierce, Allen and Garnett won’t miss too often.

Ray Allen surpassed Reggie Miller this season as the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made. Boston hopes to ride Allen’s hot hand on another deep playoff run. Knicks’ coach Mike D’Antoni has already said that he would rather double team Allen on the outside and take his chances giving Rondo open shots. Rondo is better suited as a passer than a shooter, so he will have to capitalize on his open looks. Doing do will open up the floor for Allen from downtown.

The Knicks also rely on three-point scoring, especially from point guards Chauncey Billups and Toney Douglas. Both teams shot 37 percent from beyond the arch during the season.

Stoudemire appears to be 100 percent healthy after an ankle injury limited his minutes over the past few games. He’s still trying to shake off the rust, but the Knicks will need him to be his usual self if they plan on making a run.

After getting off to a great start this season, Knicks’ rookie Landry Fields ran out of steam over the past few weeks. New York hopes he can regain his early season form to serve as a strong check down option.

Of course, there’s Melo. Melo had no trouble scoring in a Knicks’ uniform, but he still hasn’t quite developed the chemistry with Stoudemire that was expected. These two will have to get on the same page and fast if they have any shot at unseating the Celtics.

Bench

Four words: Glen “Big Baby” Davis.

Davis has been an unstoppable force coming off Boston’s bench, averaging 11.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He’s a bruiser on the glass and has developed a deadly mid-range jumper.

Davis should rack up on the glass against the Knicks’ second unit players, Shelden Williams and Ronny Turiaf. Big Baby will “rattle” whoever New York throws his way. When it comes to rebounds, Big Baby hasn’t learned how to share.

Big Baby looks hungry...hungry for an NBA title.

In addition to Davis, Jeff Green provides instant offense off the Celtics’ bench. He scores like a starter and will likely be a starter next season—albeit for a different team.

Though Shaquille O’Neal has won four NBA championships, his age and recent string of injuries are catching up to him. His minutes may be limited, and the Knicks will look to exploit him as much as possible. New York wants to shift Stoudemire to center when Shaq is on the floor, so the younger, more athletic Amar’e can wear down the big man.

The Knicks will also look for contributions from their bench featuring Jared Jeffries, Bill Walker and the afore-mentioned Douglas, Turiaf and Williams. D’Antoni uses his team’s depth to keep everyone fresh.

The starters on both teams can score with anyone, so the benches may dictate the outcome of the series.

X-Factor

Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers has seen it all. He fully expects his team to be playing for an NBA title.

While the Knicks’ “Big Three” of Anthony, Stoudemire and Billups can do some damage, the Celtics’ “Big Four” has too much experience to lose in the first round.

Expect a big series from Boston’s captain Paul Pierce, who rises to the occasion during the postseason.

Despite finishing in third place, the Celtics are out to prove that they—not the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat—are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

The games should all be competitive, but the Knicks still appear to be another year away from becoming an Eastern Conference power.

After all the hype surrounding the “Melo-drama,” the final chapter will take the form of a first round playoff exit.

Prediction: Celtics win series 4-1

Categories: NBA

New Jersey Nets Top 10 Games of 2010-2011

April 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Though 24-58 is an improvement over last year, the New Jersey Nets experienced another tough season.

However, based on their play this year, Nets fans have plenty of hope as the team prepares to move to Brooklyn after next season.

While the wins didn’t pile up, there were a few positives this year. New head coach Avery Johnson preached the importance of playing a complete game, which the Nets will look to improve upon next season.

Power forward Kris Humphries had a breakout year, and Brook Lopez began to establish himself as a skilled NBA big man.

The team also welcomed All-Star point guard Deron Williams and expects big contributions from him next season.

The Nets played exciting basketball at times, which bodes well for next year.

Here are the top 10 games of the Nets 2010-2011 season.

10. Nets Win on Opening Night

Date: October 28, 2010

Location: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

Score: Nets 101, Pistons 98

The Nets jumped off to a good start an opening night victory over the Detroit Pistons.

After trailing by six points at halftime, the Nets put together back-to-back 31 point quarters.  However, the Nets still were down by seven with 1:40 remaining.

New Jersey chipped away, and relied on a clutch three-pointer from Anthony Morrow with 26 seconds left to put the Nets ahead to stay.

Brook Lopez led the way with 25 points, while Devin Harris added 22. Though the Pistons had seven players in double-figures, the Nets got timely bench points from Jordan Farmar and Terrence Williams.

New Jersey’s first-round draft pick, Derrick Favors, made his NBA debut in this game and scored eight points with 10 rebounds.

After losing their first 18 games of the 2009-2010 season, the Nets were happy to gave earned their first win in just their first game.

9. Rare Road Win at Memphis

Date: December 21, 2010

Location: FedExForum, Memphis, TN

Score: Nets 101, Grizzlies 94

The Nets earned just their third road win of the season after they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies.

New Jersey shot 52.6 percent from the field, and held Memphis stars Rudy Gay and Zack Randolph to 8-of-29 shooting for 11 points apiece.

Brook Lopez knocked in a game-high 26 points, while recently acquired Sasha Vujacic scored 16 off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting.

Kris Humphries recorded a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

The win concluded a streak in which the Nets won three out of four games.

8. Come-from-Behind Win over Portland

Date: November 28, 2010

Location: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

Score: Nets 96, Trail Blazers 96

With Kim Kardashian on hand, the Nets rallied from a three-quarter deficit to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers.

Devin Harris paced the Nets with 25 points and eight assists. New Jersey got great production from its three power forwards—Derrick Favors, Kris Humphries and Troy Murphy—who combined for 24 points and 14 rebounds.

The Nets were able to hang on late despite three Trail Blazers scoring 20-plus points.  Wesley Matthews, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25, 21 and 20 points, respectively.

This was a nice bounce-back win after the Nets were outscored by 16 points in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers the day before.

7. Deron Williams Nets Debut

Date: February 25, 2011

Location: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Score: Spurs 106, Nets 96

Though the Nets lost the game, Deron Williams’ Nets debut easily makes this list. The Nets battled with the NBA-best Spurs until San Antonio got hot in the third quarter.

New Jersey played with a renewed sense of energy to kick off the Deron Williams era. Williams developed a connection with his teammates, especially Kris Humphries.

However, the Spurs were too much for the Nets to handle. Manu Ginobili led all scorers with 26 points, while Tim Duncan and DeJaun Blair added 17 each.

After a slow start, Williams recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 assists. Anthony Morrow scored 25 points off the bench in the losing effort.

This game gave Nets fan a preview of what they should expect next season—more so the energy than the loss.

6. Defeat Melo at “The Rock”

Date: January 31, 2011

Location: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

Score: Nets 115, Nuggets 99

Three 30-plus point quarters led the Nets to a home victory over the Denver Nuggets.

At this time, the rumors surrounding Carmelo Anthony were swirling, so the Nets erected a poster board of the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn right outside the visitor’s locker room.

Anthony responded in a big way, scoring 37 points with nine rebounds in the loss.

Brook Lopez scored 27 points, while Devin Harris dished out 18 assists.

Travis Outlaw had one of his best games as a Net with 21 points on 8-of-14 from the field. Anthony Morrow had the hot hand all night and finished with 18 points on 6-of-6 shooting—4-of-4 from three-point range.

This win proved to Melo that the Nets have depth. Hopefully, New Jersey can use this depth to defeat Melo more often now that he’s a New York Knick.

5. Win on the Road over Top-Seeded Celtics

Date: March 14, 2011

Location: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

Score: Nets 88, Celtics 79

The Nets used a 13-1 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to earn a win over the Boston Celtics—the Eastern Conference leader at the time.

The win signified New Jersey’s fifth straight win.

Despite strong performances by Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Glen “Big Baby” Davis, the Nets held the rest of the Celtics in check, mainly Paul Pierce, who only scored seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.

The Nets had five players in double-figures, led by Brook Lopez’s 20 points. Kris Humphries recorded a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Deron Williams added 16 points of his own. He drilled a crossover three-pointer with 35.6 seconds left that sealed the win and resulted in the most memorable fan reaction of the season

Though New Jersey went into a tailspin after this win, it was one of this season’s top games.

4. Triple-Overtime Loss to Thunder

Date: December 1, 2010

Location: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

Score: Thunder 123, Nets 120

Though the Nets lost this triple-overtime battle to the Oklahoma City Thunder, this game had it all.

Following a first half that looked like the Thunder would blow the Nets out of the water, Anthony Morrow’s improbable three-pointer at the end of regulation sent the game to overtime.

However, Russell Westbrook took control in the overtime periods, making big shot after big shot. He was one assist shy of a triple-double—38 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. Jeff Green added 37 points in the win.

Brook Lopez and Jordan Farmar scored 28 points each in over 50 minutes of play. Morrow finished with 25 points and shot 3-of-6 from behind the arch.

This would have been a big game for the Nets to win. New Jersey went on to lose the next six games.

3. Total Team Effort Against Utah

Date: January 19, 2011

Location: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

Score: Nets 103, Jazz 95

Following Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s announcement that New Jersey would no longer pursue Carmelo Anthony, the Nets gave a valiant effort to hang on for the win against the Utah Jazz.

A 21-5 first quarter run established a nice lead for the Nets, though the Jazz made things interesting late.

Seven Nets finished in double-figures, with Brook Lopez leading the way with 20 points.

Deron Williams scored 20 points and added 10 assists for the Jazz. Little did he know that he would be a Net just over a month later.

This win snapped a six-game losing streak, and gave Nets fans a preview of things to come with Williams.

2. Triple-Overtime Win in London

Date: March 5, 2011

Location: The O2 Arena, London

Score: Nets 137, Raptors 136

In the second game of the historic first-ever series in London, the Nets completed the sweep of the Toronto Raptors in this triple-overtime thriller.

Travis Outlaw had the hot hand late, scoring the final eight Nets points in the third overtime.

Brook Lopez starred on the European stage, scoring 34 points with 14 rebounds and eight blocks. Kris Humphries and Deron Williams also recorded double-doubles.

For the Raptors, Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan scored 35 and 30 points, respectively, in the losing cause. Bargnani had a chance to give Toronto the win, but his final jumper was off the mark.

The 137 points was the most the Nets scored in a game all season—albeit they did have three overtime periods.

New Jersey used its trip to London to start its five-game winning streak.

1. Nets Overcome 20-Point Deficit to Beat Clippers

Date: March 11, 2011

Location: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

Score: Nets 102, Clippers 98

The Nets were down 20 points midway through the second quarter in this one, which looked like it would snap the Nets three-game winning streak.

Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were putting on a “dunk-a-thon” early, and the Nets were without Deron Williams.

However, the team dug deep within themselves to fight back for the four-point win.

Travis Outlaw gave the team a jolt of energy after halftime when Avery Johnson inserted him into the starting lineup for the opening minutes. He scored eight straight points as the Nets were able to chip away at the lead.

Kris Humphries had a monster performance, with 19 points on a perfect 8-of-9 shooting and 20 rebounds. Brook Lopez and Jordan Farmar added 24 points each, though all of Farmar’s points came in the second half.

This was a great win because the Nets didn’t give up. Even without their superstar point guard, New Jersey found a way to keep its winning streak alive.

Categories: NBA Tags: ,

Can the Mets please throw some strikes?

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

On the whole, baseball is a simple game. The pitcher takes the ball and throws it over the plate, while the batter either watches it go by, puts the ball in play or swings and misses.

Pretty simple, right?

Well, our beloved Mets have of course found a way to skew the most basic facet of the game: throwing strikes.

Both the Mets’ starters and relievers have struggled with walks in the early going, which has definitely played a factor in the early season losses. The Mets were in most of their games until they were burned by the walk.

On Opening Day right before John Buck hit that morale-crushing grand slam, Mike Pelfrey walked two hitters.

After the Mets overcame a seven-run deficit in Philadelphia last week, Blaine Boyer had a huge walk in the bottom of the fifth which allowed the Phillies to tack on an insurance run.

Last night, Jon Niese walked Seth Smith with one out that later set up early NL-MVP candidate Troy Tulowitzki’s three-run homer.

Let me start this off by saying that walks are undoubtedly going to happen. Though pitchers are paid to throw strikes, they sometimes try to get too fancy in spotting their pitches and miss the strikezone.

I can live with a starting pitcher doing this, since he is likely to see each hitter at least 2-3 times per start.

However, we need our relievers to throw strikes. In tight games, walks kill a team, especially walks that lead off an inning. The opposing team can then sacrifice the runner over and then has two chances to drive in the run.

The Mets have a putrid 4.83 bullpen ERA (25th in the league). Even worse, they are second only to the LA Angels with 21 bullpen walks.

The Mets have only played 11 games, so that’s almost two bullpen walks per game, which is unacceptable.

Granted, the Mets bullpen ERA has been ballooned by Boyer’s eight earned runs in just 6.2 innings of work. Luckily, Jason Isringhausen replaced Boyer, and may be able to provide some stability in the pen.

Tim Byrdak and Taylor Buchholz have also struggled with walks. Byrdak has two walks in 4.0 innings, which has played a role in his 9.00 ERA. Buchholz takes the cake, however, with five walks in just 6.2 innings.

Bobby Parnell hasn’t been great throwing strikes either, with three walks in 4.1 innings.

Let’s all just take a deep breath.

One thing the Mets have shown this year is a little bit of fight. They’ve shown they can come back in games (at least to some degree).

However, the team’s efforts are squandered when the bullpen cannot hold the lead. We need guys in the pen that can come in, throw strikes and give the Mets’ bats a chance to either continue their comeback or tack of some insurance runs.

I wonder how patient the Mets will be if the bullpen keeps up these walks. I’m sure there are relievers in the Mets’ system that can throw strikes.

If necessary, bring up the “Boof.”

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

Categories: MLB Tags: , , ,

Mets playing with renewed energy and passion

April 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Energy and passion.

While these two attributes have been lacking from New York Mets baseball for the past few years, the team has shown a year’s worth in just four games.

After the ugly Opening Day loss, the team has responded in a big way. That first game was the type of loss that can bury a team right out of the gate, but the Mets found a way to win the next three, albeit in peculiar fashion on Saturday.

What’s more special is that they started on the road in two stadiums where they are known to struggle: Sun Life Stadium in Miami and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

The Mets didn’t win their first road series last year until mid June when the swept the Baltimore Orioles.

If the Mets can win just one of the next two games (preferably both but they have a better shot tonight against Joe Blanton than tomorrow against Roy Halladay), this first road trip would be everything a Mets fan could ask for.

The team has been stealing bases, taking the extra base on hits and hitting well with runners in scoring position. For example, during last night’s six-run rally in the top of the third inning, the Mets didn’t even have an extra base hit. They instead put together six singles (two by starting pitcher Chris Young which set a news Mets record) and two walks.

The Mets have had success against Cole Hamels, and it was great to see them knock him out early. The hype in Philadelphia may be all about the “four aces” this season, but until they each pitch like an ace, they’re just a regular staff.

Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan and David Wright all seem rejuvenated so far. They must continue to lead by example and create things for the middle of the order.

Though Carlos Beltran is off to a slow start, the players around him are picking up the slack. You have to remember, he played just three games in spring training, so he’s still getting a feel for right field and at the plate.

Terry Collins could possibly consider moving Beltran down in the order to take some of the pressure off him. Ike Davis is off to a hot start and can hit fourth, so Beltran can slide into the fifth or sixth hole (when Jason Bay returns).

While the Mets have only played four games, all of a sudden some of the doubters this season have begun opening their eyes. They may still believe the Mets are destined for a fourth or even fifth-place finish, but they must agree that this energetic play has surprised them.

The diehards, myself included, knew this team could play like this all along. In fact, since the Mets roster may not rival that of the Phillies or Braves, this is the way the Mets will have to play each night to put up wins.

The team seems to be buying into Terry Collins’ philosophy as well.

“One game at a time.”

The New Jersey Devils used this phrase as their motto the last two months as they made a playoff push after a terrible start to their NHL season. While the Devils will come up short of the playoffs, they went on a streak unmatched by any team this year and have now set the bar high for next year.

The Mets can learn something from the Devils: A late season streak is useless if your team is already too far out of contention.

The goal for the Mets will be to take “one game at a time,” and see where it takes them.

Win or lose, all I know is Mets baseball is exciting once again.

Categories: MLB Tags: , ,

Should Mets start Willie Harris in left field on Opening Day?

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Terry Collins prefers to use Willie Harris as the Mets’ Opening Day left fielder.

Jason Bay will begin the year on the disabled list and won’t return until April 9 at the earliest.

The Mets will carry young slugger Lucas Duda in Bay’s spot and will expect Duda to start most of the games in left field.

If so, why does it seem that Harris will get the Opening Day nod?

Harris has had a productive spring and rightfully earned a spot on the roster. He showed some pop over the last few weeks and should be a versatile member of the Mets’ bench.

Even so, you might still be asking why the Mets will start Harris when they want Duda to play every day.

The answer is simple: The Mets will be facing Florida Marlins’ ace Josh Johnson—one of the top pitchers in the game—on Opening Day.

Rather than have Duda start the season with a tough outing against Johnson that could crush his confidence, Collins can save Duda for Game 2 against Ricky Nolasco. Though Nolasco is no slouch, Johnson can be unhittable at times.

If the Mets do go with Harris on Opening Day like it seems, the lineup may look similar to this: Reyes, Thole, Wright, Beltran, Davis, Pagan, Harris, Emaus.

As Rubin reported, Collins may want to use Pagan as more of a run producer rather than a table-setter in Bay’s absence. This lineup could do some damage and has a nice combination of speed and power.

While Harris has done everything to earn the spot in the starting lineup, why is Scott Hairston not being considered?

Hairston had a monstrous spring training for the Mets. He hit .345 with four HR and 12 RBI in just 58 at-bats.

Though the games don’t matter, Hairston hit some clutch home runs this spring.

The one drawback from Hairston this spring has been his strikeouts. While he showed good power, he struck out 14 times.

Against a power pitcher in Josh Johnson, the Mets must focus on putting the ball in play and force the Marlins to make plays. The fish have been known to play shoddy defense, so the Mets must capitalize on their mistakes.

Harris is more of a contact threat than Hairston. He can use his speed to manufacture runs, which will be key against Johnson.

Additionally, having the power threat in Hairston available to pinch-hit late in the game can work to the Mets’ advantage. The Mets may need an extra base-hit to start a rally, and Hairston can provide that punch.

Though I’d like to see as much of Lucas Duda as possible the next week and a half, I agree with Collins’ logic here. Allowing Duda to not be overmatched in his first game of the season can go a long way in his development.

Another question you may be thinking about is the following: What happens if Duda absolutely rakes in Bay’s absence?

He would really have to show some good power and drive in a ton of runs early for the Mets to even consider keeping him with the big club. Still, no matter where he is, Duda needs to play every day, especially defensively, to continue improving.

Burying Duda on the Mets’ bench would do him no good. While Carlos Beltran won’t be expected to play every single game, Duda would still have to battle Harris and Hairston for playing time.

These questions and more should be answered as the season progresses.

I’m sure as you’re excited as I am for Opening Day tomorrow. Here’s to a lot of fun in 2011. Win or lose, it’s great to finally have baseball back.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

Categories: MLB

Kris Humphries: 10 Reasons Re-Signing Him Needs To Be New Jersey Nets' Priority

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Following the 2011-2012 season, the main free agent the New Jersey Nets will worry about is current point guard Deron Williams.

However, a pressing free agent that the Nets must retain this upcoming offseason is their power forward, Kris Humphries.

After six mediocre seasons playing mostly in a bench role, Humphries has found himself this season.

He’s averaged a double-double this season with 10.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

If it wasn’t for Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Humphries would be a shoe-in for Comeback Player of the Year.

Here are 10 reasons why the Nets must re-sign Humphries this offseason.

10. Kim Kardashian attends games

Though this obviously is not a major reason to bring back Kris Humphries, he is dating Kim Kardashian.

While she hasn’t exactly brought the Nets much luck this season, it’s always a pleasure seeing her in the stands.

Maybe she can distract the Nets’ opponents into missing shots.

But seriously, here are the real reasons for bringing back Humphries.

9. Won’t be too expensive

In regards to some of the other available free agents, Kris Humphries may not be terribly expensive.

Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov has his sights set on some marquee free agents this and next offseason. However, he must also budget wisely so the Nets can afford the available talent.

Humphries is only 26, and his performance this year has opened the eyes of many around the league.

Still, he won’t command the salary of Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph or David West, thus making him a great option for the Nets.

8. Starter or substitute

Kris Humphries has shown that he can be a valuable member of a starting five or can sub if need be.

Humphries worked his way into the starting lineup early in the season after giving the Nets great minutes off the bench.

When the Nets gave youngster Derrick Favors the starting role, Humphries still was able to record double-doubles off the bench.

Humphries regained the starting role following the Deron Williams trade, which included Favors. He hasn’t lost a step since the change.

He gives the Nets versatility if they plan on pursuing a free agent forward or center.

7. Two-way player

Not only can Kris Humphries clean up around the hoop, but he has shown his defensive prowess all season.

He rises up over would-be offensive rebounders to snatch the ball out of their grasps.

He’s 6’9”, 235 pounds, so he uses his muscular frame to bully his opponents on the glass.

Though he’s averaged just 1.1 blocks per game, it’s the timing and emphatic nature of these blocks that has left an impact.

Here, Humphries put Phoenix Suns’ center Robin Lopez in his place in front of his twin brother, Brook.

He’s one of the few two-way players left in the NBA.

6. Lots of energy

Kris Humphries gave the Nets a much-needed energy boost early this year after New Jersey’s miserable 12-70 season last year.

He ripped down rebounds, cleaned up on the glass and threw down some monster dunks.

This energy was a huge factor in the Nets’ improvement this season.

Humphries always hustled when he was on the floor, and will look to continue this energy heading into next season.

5. Double-double machine

Kris Humphries has been a double-double machine this season.

He’s recorded 29 double-doubles this year after only recording six in his first six seasons.

He is one of only 11 players averaging a double-double this season. The other 10 are the following: Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Zack Randolph, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bogut, Joakim Noah, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo and Humphries’ teammate Deron Williams.

That is some pretty impressive company, which shows what sort of asset Humphries has been to the Nets this season.

4. Picks up Brook Lopez on the boards

This season, Nets’ center Brook Lopez has developed a deadly mid-range jumper.

As a result, he has found himself outside the paint more often when rebounding opportunities arise.

Lopez has averaged just 5.9 rebounds per game this year, which for a seven-footer is quite low.

However, Kris Humphries has picked up Lopez’s slack on the glass in a big way. He pulls down offensive rebounds, which gives the Nets second opportunities.

Also, since the Nets can rely on Humphries down low, Lopez can use his outside jumper more often, knowing that Humphries will fight for the board.

3. Finally come into his own

It may have taken Kris Humphries six NBA seasons, but he finally put everything together this season.

Once he worked himself into the starting lineup, he gained the confidence needed to make him a productive player.

Since he’s still young, Humphries can use this momentum to build a solid career.

The Nets would be wise to lock him up long-term to prevent another team from swooping in.

2. Connection with Deron Williams

From the moment that Deron Williams suited up for the Nets, he and Kris Humphries developed an instant connection.

Williams has a knack for finding most of the big men he’s played with, but Williams and Humphries looked like they had been playing together for years.

Since Humphries was able to constantly finish around the basket, Williams compiled a ton of assists.

Williams will be a Net for at least one more season, so re-signing Humphries long-term may keep Deron in town.

As long as Williams consistently feeds Humphries down low, both players will be productive forces for the 2011-2012 Nets.

1. Arguably Nets’ MVP

Kris Humphries has arguably been the Nets’ MVP this season.

New Jersey seems to get a consistent performance out of him every night, which has been a major factor in their improvement.

The Nets appear to be a team on the rise in the Eastern Conference, but Humphries will need to be around next year for the team to get better.

As seen by the trade for Deron Williams, Mikhail Prokhorov and Nets’ GM Billie King aren’t afraid to shake up the roster.

However, what sort of message would it send to the other Nets’ players if the team failed to sign their MVP?

Based on these reasons, there’s a strong possibility Humphries will continue to call Newark home for at least the next few seasons.

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