Hummel Continues To Be Ready When Called Upon
Robbie Hummel didn’t sub into the Wolves’ 104-102 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday until the 10:01 mark of the fourth quarter, right after Corey Brewer picked up his second personal foul. For about two hours, he sat on the Minnesota bench congratulating his teammates, listening to Rick Adelman’s coaching and analyzing what the Kings were doing on both ends of the court.
It’s not always easy to enter the game cold that late in the contest, but Hummel seized his moment. He hit his first jumper less than 30 seconds after entering the game, and he hit another 30 seconds later. And those shots mattered: those four points turned a one-point Wolves deficit into a three-point lead.
It was a Don’t Blink moment that ignited a spark for a Timberwolves’ bench that had shot a combined 1-for-11 from the field up to that point.
“You’ve got to stay focused,” Hummel said. “I think for me it helped me if I really analyze the game and kind of watching—if I pay attention to what the other team is doing, what we’re running. So I try to do that, try to stay engaged and try to be ready if you get put in.”
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Hummel, like fellow rookies Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad, has gone through a season filled with up and down playing time. He got two spot starts in November and December in place of Kevin Martin, and he’s contributed as many as 28 minutes in a game during this 2013-14 campaign. But he’s also gone as many as 14 consecutive games without registering minutes—including a stint during which he was a healthy scratch.
That inconsistent playing time isn’t something Hummel dealt with through much of his playing career—he was an immediate contributor and top scorer for Purdue even as a freshman. But his mindset has remained the same. Hummel works extra before games and before and after practice, he continues to learn the nuances of what the Wolves try to do on both ends of the court, and he keeps himself ready.
You never know when the chance to shine will come along, and you need to be prepared.
“Robbie’s that type of guy,” Kevin Love said. “It’s an opportunity league….Robbie came in, his number was called, and I think he played really well.
“He’s strong, he’s deceptively athletic—a guy who can really rebound, can guard multiple positions. And he went to Purdue, so we know he plays hard. He’s a grind it out kind of player, really wants to be out there on the floor and really work his butt off.”
Hummel said he understands the type of player he needs to be whenever he enters the game. He’s a shooter, so he needs to take those open looks when they happen. That’s why he let it fly when he entered early in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
And secondly, he’s trying to develop a niche as a player who can be versatile defensively. During Summer League, assistant coach David Adelman had Hummel guarding several positions throughout the games. Hummel said he feels comfortable mixing and matching where he defends, and that’s something he hopes will help him carve out a spot in the NBA for a long time.
“Anything you can do to add to your versatility, especially when you’re a role guy, it is key because you have to set yourself apart in some way,” Hummel said. “So I think just that understanding of the game kind of helps me defensively, because like I said before I’m not the most athletic guy on the court. But you’ve just got to be locked in and know your strengths and try to play to those.”
When the Wolves tip off tonight against the Mavericks in Dallas (7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM), it’s hard to tell how many minutes Hummel will get. The same goes for Thursday night in Houston. But one thing you can bank on is when called upon, Hummel will be ready.
“He had his opportunity today after being on the bench the last I don’t know how many games,” Ricky Rubio said on Sunday night. “And step up, be ready. We ask for players like that, and he did it today and we hope we can use him more.”