BOSTON - Kris Humphries has never been a go-to player in the NBA.
But when you talk about having a high-energy, no-nonsense contributor on your roster, Humphries, 29, has been a must-have performer for the Celtics.
A throw-in to make the money work as part of the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett blockbuster deal this summer, Humphries has been arguably the biggest surprise of the season for the Celtics.
And his play was instrumental in Boston holding their own most of the night against Indiana before the Pacers squeaked out a 102-97 victory.
Humphries finished with his fifth double-double, tallying 18 points and 10 rebounds in addition to a pair of highlight-reel quality blocked shots.
But his contributions to the Celtics this season can't be measured in mere statistics or the team's number of victories.
He makes hustle plays on the boards, blocks shots, makes teams pay for giving him a wide open elbow jumper, works with the youngsters such as Phil Pressey and Kelly Olynyk and ... The list of things he does for this team is lengthy.
That's why when Danny Ainge is looking at who to keep "on the bus" for next season, Humphries should be a keeper.
He's making $12 million in this, the final year of his contract, but can be had at fraction of that next season.
He has repeatedly said he wants to re-sign with the Celtics this summer, and Boston is indeed open to bringing him back.
After watching him battle the Pacers' bigs, you can see why.
A Humphries basket cut Indiana's lead to 74-72.
On the ensuing possession, Jared Sullinger missed a shot that was rebounded by Humphries. The ball eventually wound up in the hands of Jeff Green whose jumper tied the game at 74.
Humphries wasn't done.
He came back with a jumper that put the Celtics ahead 76-74, delivering the kind of sequence that Boston absolutely had to have in order to compete with a Pacers team that smoked them by 27 points on Dec. 22 - Boston's second-largest margin of defeat this season.
But the Pacers, as they have done often this season, managed to gather themselves in time to get the victory.
Carrying them down the stretch was Paul George who scored eight of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter. And those eight points came in the final 4:20 of play.
George's late-game dominance is not that unusual.
The same can be said for Humphries, when it comes to chipping in and help the Celtics remain competitive most nights, doing it with very little fanfare.
And it is that kind of blue-collar play that the Celtics will need not only in the remaining games this season, but also going forward in their efforts at rebuilding.
Humphries should be a part of Boston's next phase of play.
Because with all those draft picks Boston has coming its way in the coming years, there's a good chance that they'll add at least one or two superstar-caliber players.
Beyond that, the Celtics will need solid role players to count on, players like Kris Humphries.