Robbie Hummel, no. 15

#TwolfRank: No. 15 Robbie Hummel

Robbie Hummel, no. 15

Robbie Hummel, no. 15

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:

What Happened in Vegas: They Lost (And Game Preview)

This game was pretty forgettable as a whole. On the brightside they’re 0-2 against the D-League Select but 2-1 against everyone else. Really,  no one outside of Chris Johnson really stood out and was terrific at getting to the line again. Othyus Jeffers was pretty good still and so was John Holland, but no one else really stood out.

Robbie Hummel went 2-7. Welp.

Shabazz Muhammad shot 25 percent from the field tonight and some people are clamoring for his retirement. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t peak yesterday. Or at least I hope not. That wouldn’t be good.

Can we get more than four summer league games before holding a referendum on a player’s career?

No? Okayfinethenwhatever.

Really, you have to give the Select team some credit. They’re undefeated and beat the Timberwolves for the second time in five days, in part because they forced them into shooting 33.8 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from three. Despite also cutting back on their turnovers considerably, they still got beat on the glass, 47-38. Enabling the Select team to grab so many more defensive rebounds enabled them to prevent the Timberwolves getting any second chance points and also keeping them from building more momentum.

It may not have mattered if they had gotten more second chance opportunities given how the entire team struggled shooting, but it could have also given them some rhythm, which they desperately needed.

You Mean I Get a Preview, too? What Value!

Consequently, the Timberwolves will play the Portland Traiblazers team in the consolation bracket instead of the championship bracket. Which is a little unfortunate because it won’t start until 9:30pm central and I have no idea where it will air; NBA TV or ESPN 3 would be my guesses, though.

As for the Blazers, they lost again as well yesterday, this time to the Suns, giving them a 1-4 record. C.J. McCollum has starred for the Blazers with averages of 21 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game and 3.4 assists for the the rookie guard (His averages are much more impressive if you don’t look at this shooting efficiency.) The Blazers are full of players like McCollum who have nice averages, like Will Barton and Thomas Robinson, but have not reached those marks efficiently.

I will not be there for this one since I will be in the air during game time on my way back to Minneapolis, which is disappointing because this week has been a blast. But you can still follow me on Twitter anyway and use other Timberwolves people who will be in attendance and giving live updates.

 

What Happened in Vegas: Timberwolves-Heat Recap

Evidently the third time is the charm as the Timberwolves finally earned a summer league victory with an 80-79 victory over the Miami Heat. Normally when you commit 28 turnovers you should have no business winning, but the Heat committed 20 of their own that, when combined with their subpar shooting, kept them from getting back into this game.

Shabazz Muhammad struggled shooting once again, going 3-10 from the field including a few missed hooks off of the basket. Shabazz clearly wants to be a dynamic inside-out player, but in order to do so he is going to have to convert those high percentage looks. Perhaps some that can be attributed to nerves or just typical ups and downs, but no matter what the Timberwolves will need him to hit those looks.

Gorgui Dieng looked better than yesterday, shooting 4-5 for six points and five rebounds. The Timberwolves still had a frustrating habit of leaving Dieng at the top of the key with the ball with no other player movement, leaving Dieng with two options that don’t play to his strengths: take the jumper or attempt to drive the rim. Typically these plays have ended in a turnover or a forced pass. It would’ve been nice to see more activity and communication in these sets because it seems like they stop running the play as soon as Dieng receives the ball. And I can promise that is not the play call.

Demetri McCamey (who played well yesterday) and John Holland started and gave meaningful contributions as the Wolves took the victory.

After a strong summer league to that point, Robbie Hummel struggled; shooting 1-5 and just three points, although he did manage to bring in seven rebounds.

After the Timberwolves nearly let a lead slip away last night but learned from their game last night by not letting their mistakes mount. For instance, if they committed a turnover they would turn around and force one or get a stop on the next possession– mitigating the consequences all together. Or they would miss a shot, but instead of getting frustrating they would go right back to the same player and the same spot to make it. It’s called having a short memory and not allowing the previous play to affect the future of the game. It’s a trait of team maturity, which feels weird to talk about while referring to a summer league game, but it can absolutely make the difference between a win and a loss as it did today.

This only matters if the members of this summer league team that will play next season for the Timberwovles carry this over to 2014. At the least, it’s encouraging, and will be needed given the various improvements many NBA teams have made, especially those in their own conference.

Timberwolves Lose to Suns at Buzzer; Hummel Continues to Impress

The main story of the Timberwolves’ 91-89 point loss isn’t their inability to finish off their opponent or the fact that they gave away an incredible lead in the fourth quarter. No, the important thing is the individual development of the important pieces the Timberwolves have an investment in into players that can help the team in any capacity.

While Shabazz struggled after the first quarter shooting the ball, he showed a willingness to pass that people were concerned wasn’t there. If he can carry this willingness into the regular season, in addition to refining his shot selection, he could make a valuable fourth or fifth option for the team.

Robbie Hummel continued to be awesome, posting 18 points on 7 rebounds in his typical high-energy fashion. If there was a way the Timberwolves could wedge him on the roster I would be just fine with that.

Chris Johnson played an okay game with 3 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, but did have 6 fouls in 25 minutes of court time. It was not a good night for Gorgui Dieng.

The surprise of the night was Demetri McCamey with 13 points on 5-7 shooting off of the bench. If there was a title for summer league hero, McCamey would fit the bill tonight.

Otherwise, the Wolves went 19-34 from the line, so Marcus Morris’ three pointer should be irrelevant anyways. It’s almost impossible to win shooting 55.9 percent from the line. Ya know, committing 21 turnovers is still a problem. All of these things caused the game to have that slipping away feeling late. Timberwolves forward Robbie Hummel confirmed as much after the game, saying, “You can feel it. It’s one of those things where you have to keep grinding it out and for awhile we did. They got it down to 10 and we pushed it back to 14-15 and they just kept coming and we weren’t able to switch it. But hopefully it’s something we can learn from.”

At any rate, the Timberwolves will return to action tomorrow at Cox Pavilion against the Miami Heat on a game that will be aired on NBA TV.