In conjunction with ESPN’s #NBARank, we’re unveiling the third installation of our very own #TwolfRank. This year we have more opinions from HTW as well as around the web, thanks to your undying support of the Wolves. For the next few weeks, we’re going to lay out our rankings of all the Wolves players. We’ll share our thoughts, opinions and even give some predictions for each player and the upcoming season. Don’t forget that we want your help in evaluating these players, so be aware on Twitter when we need your help using the #TwolfRank!
Let’s face the truth: If Robbie Hummel were a free agent right now, he’d most likely be negotiating deals to play overseas or perhaps vaulting for a non-guaranteed deal to be featured in the D-League. But, sure enough, after Flip Saunders signed the former Boilermaker with bionic knees to a fully guaranteed contract on July 21st. He’s not the flashiest player on the roster, nor does he really have even an ounce of upside to him at 25 years old already, but Hummel remains an important piece of this team because of his ability to play the stretch 4.
Last season, Hummel captured the faith of future Hall of Fame coach Rick Adelman, and was awarded minutes in 53 games, while even starting five as well in place of injured starters. Hummel’s lack of a position was actually a blessing in disguise last season and will be again this year. The small forward position is quite stacked with a combination of Andrew Wiggins, Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger, Shabazz Muhammad and even Glenn Robinson III all likely to see some time at the spot. But slide into the front court, and the Wolves’s depth desperately drops off. With just Thad Young and Anthony Bennett the only two splitting time at the 4, there’s very little wiggle room and relief in sight, barring an injury or two during the rigorous season.
That’s where Hummel comes in. Think of him as a 5th or 6th wide receiver for an NFL team that also played quarterback in college and has all the tools to fill in when needed. Hummel’s skill set and lack of strength make him more of a 3 than a 4, but his height (about 6’9″) and ability to stretch the floor in the halfcourt, just like Kevin Love and Ryan Anderson, can create mismatches on the offensive end. Defense is a whole other ball game, but odds are you’ll see Gorgui Dieng or Ronny Turiaf playing the 4 if the match up is more of a ground-and-pound, prototypical 4. But I digress.
In his 655 minutes played last season, Hummel was actually SECOND IN THE LEAGUE in turnovers with just 10 all year. Anderson was the only one better playing more minutes. Hummel doesn’t hold the ball much, nor does he actually dribble very often but that’s a pretty fantastic trait that you can be on the court and rarely cough it up. For that reason alone, I think you’ll see Hummel play more minutes than Robinson this season, and maybe even Muhammad if he can’t figure out his game this season.
Holding on to the ball is important but Hummel’s real asset is in his shooting, with his three-point shooting being especially important. If he were in San Antonio, Hummel’s ass would be parked in either of the corners in the halfcourt as he rotates to get open for that infamous corner three. That’s going to be an important trait for him in Minnesota this year and beyond, if he wants to continue his career in the NBA. It’s a shot the Wolves never have specialized in, while the league starts to catch up. Hummel shot 36 percent from three-point land in general last season but hovered around 30 percent from the corners. That has to improve if he wants to increase his minutes.
While Hummel’s signing early in the offseason was moot at the time, it seems a tad disappointing right now, considering the Wolves have one too many players on the roster for next season. If that conundrum wasn’t a problem, I’d have no issue with Hummel being on the squad. But since it’s hindered the potential for other moves like trades during the late days of the offseason, it’s been rather disappointing.
Still, Hummel has a chance to crack the lineup because of his tweener status and historically solid shooting ability. There are places he needs to improve, such as the corner three, but his ability to prevent turning the ball over is key when trying to find more minutes in the rotation. I don’t expect too much from Hummel this season, but if he can spot-start here and there or simply give the Wolves reliable depth at both forward positions, he’ll live up to his new guaranteed contract.
Here’s what you all had to say about Robbie Hummel:
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) September 23, 2014
@howlintwolf I was shocked they re signed him. I guess he’s a solid 15th man. Decent three point shooter
— Nick Johnson (@nickjj42) September 23, 2014
@howlintwolf was a good story coming out of the draft but would rather see minutes go elsewhere. Re-signing was very “meh” to me.
— Andrew Renschen (@InfraRen) September 22, 2014