Hummel Was Ready At Moment's Notice When Needed

Hummel Was Ready At Moment's Notice When Needed

Robbie Hummel filled in for Kevin Martin on Wednesday night and did all the little things the Wolves wanted him to in a 124-95 victory over the Cavs. (David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images)

Terry Porter approached Wolves rookie forward Robbie Hummel about 35 minutes prior to gametime last night in the locker room. Unbeknownst to Hummel, much of the team and the media, shooting guard Kevin martin was ill with flu-like symptoms and would not be dressing against the Cavaliers.

Hummel noticed Martin wasn’t at the afternoon shootaround but didn’t think anything of it. So imagine Hummel’s surprise when Porter walked up to him and said the coaches want to give him his first career start in less than an hour.

“Instantly the butterflies [arrived],” Hummel said. “I knew the scouting report, but I went back to my iPad and said I really need to know the scouting report now. So I kind of went through that again and just tried to go out there and fill my role.”

That he did.

The Wolves rolled past Cleveland 124-95 on Wednesday night at Target Center, patching up their starting lineup by officially moving Corey Brewer to the shooting guard role and inserting the rookie Hummel in at the 3. He filled in seamlessly, hitting his open shots and helping the team on every possession with his keen understanding of where he needs to be on the floor at all times.

Coach Rick Adelman called him a glue guy—a player who simply understands his role on the club. Hummel’s smooth shot from the outside helps stretch defenses and creates a little extra room inside for Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, because defenders need to honor the fact that he can hit from the perimeter. He did that against the Cavs, shooting 4-of-6 from the field for 10 points—including 2-of-4 from 3-point range.

But if you ask Adelman, he did much more than that. Hummel’s understanding of where he needs to be on defensive assignments doesn’t show up on the stats sheet, but if you know where to look you’ll see Hummel does the little things on the court that only help Minnesota’s play.

Brewer was going to defend the Cavs’ 2-guard regardless if Martin was in or not. So sliding him to the 2 wasn’t a big transition defensively, and it wasn’t a change at all offensively since the 2 and 3 spots are relatively interchangeable on that end of the floor. So adding Hummel into the mix allowed Adelman to keep that perimeter scoring threat on the floor in Martin’s absence.

“I knew he was going to fit in with the starters,” Adelman said. “That left the other guys coming off the bench. He wasn’t going to hurt us. He was just going to help us.”

Hummel just seems to be the type of player Adelman and his coaching staff looks for. He’s got a positive attitude, a team-first approach, an efficient jumper and a knowledge of the game. It’s why he made the team during a competitive Training Camp, and it’s why Adelman, the coaching staff and his teammates all exude confidence in him.

After Hummel went 1-of-9 from the field in his preseason start at Philadelphia, Adelman approached him and let him know the confidence he had in him. That no matter how the shot is falling, he wanted Hummel to take his shots when he gets his looks. Hummel said that makes a big difference knowing a coach of Adelman’s stature has that belief in him.

Knowing that this team has scorers like Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer on the court helps, too.

“Those guys are going to score points,” Hummel said. “If I can go out there and make a couple shots and spread the defense out just so they can’t help so much on pick-and-rolls or on Kevin’s post-ups and that, that’s great. But really the key is defending, rebounding and doing the right things.”

Being ready for whatever opportunity arises is a huge part of that equation.

Brewer was in that role in Denver the past two seasons. As a bench player, he had to be prepared for when an injury or situation arose and he needed to make a spot start in the lineup.

He was ready for the challenge, and he said knew Hummel would be, too.

“You’ve got to always be ready,” Brewer said. “Like I told him before the game: Just do what you do. Be at the right spot at the right times and don’t do anything you can’t do. That’s what he did tonight. He played great.”

Hummel arrived at his locker postgame with a hoard of media members waiting for him at his locker. “Are you all waiting for me?” he asked. The group said yes in unison.

He might not have realized it on Wednesday afternoon, but he would earn that media attention later that evening thanks to his effective play stepping in for an ill teammate. You never know when that situation might arise again.

Something tells me Hummel will be up for the challenge when it does.

“The coaches have been harping on the guys who haven’t been playing that your opportunities are going to come—it’s a long season,” Hummel said. “I just tried to do that, and I feel like I did pretty well tonight.”

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.