Hummel Looking More Comfortable In Second Summer League

by Mark Remme
Web Editor


Hummel Looking, Feeling More Comfortable In Second Summer League With The Timberwolves

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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You can see the difference in Robbie Hummel’s game when comparing this stint with the Wolves’ Summer League team to last year. He looks comfortable with what he’s trying to do on the floor, he’s knocking down his shots with better efficiency and he’s executing his responsibilities both offensively and defensively with more conviction.

Give a guy like Hummel a year to learn and grow, and you’d be amazed the progress you’ll see.

“No doubt, and it’s been a smooth transition because the offense is the same,” Hummel said. “The defense is the same. I’ve seen it before. It’s really been pretty easy. It’s been a lot easier this time around.”

Hummel’s back story is well traveled—especially for Wolves fans who double as avid Big Ten followers. Hummel twice tore his at Purdue and slowed down a collegiate career that seemed like it would flourish into a first round Draft selection. Instead, Hummel fell to the Wolves with the 58th overall pick last year, spent a year in Spain (where he suffered a meniscus injury) and is back at Summer League trying to open eyes and earn a Training Camp invite.

And that’s really where this new chapter of this story begins, because Hummel is focused on what’s ahead. He knows the questions will always be there about his health, but the best way to quiet or at least tame those concerns is to go out and perform at a high level.

So far in Vegas, he’s doing just that.

Given Hummel’s age (24), his year as a professional and his time playing for the Wolves’ Summer League squad last year, he’s essentially tasked with being one of the veteran presences on this roster. He’s handling that task admirably on the court, where he’s started all four games, is shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range, averaging 9.3 points per game and is still second on the team in minutes played despite sitting all but eight minutes on Wednesday after tweaking his ankle against Sacramento—with the Wolves up 43, Hummel sat out the rest of the contest.

But he’s also providing defense for this team in several different areas. Coach David Adelman said after the Wolves’ first game against the D-League Selects on Saturday that Hummel guarded four positions in that game alone. His versatility in that department is helpful on this Summer League squad—but his willingness to take on any task the coaching staff sends his way is one of Hummel’s most valuable qualities.

“I’m asking him to do a lot of things that maybe he doesn’t have to do all the time because we’re so young,” Adelman said. “I mean, he’s doing a lot of stuff for us. That may affect some of his scoring numbers, but he’s great.”

It’s been an evolution process for Hummel, who Adelman said has tackled the game with a high basketball IQ. After his surgeries, he plays a bit more below the rim than he used to, but from a defensive standpoint he’s working his way back toward having the same impact he had with Purdue early on in his collegiate career.

If he’s going to make it to the NBA, Hummel will need to translate all the work he’s put in and all the lessons he’s learned to carve out a spot on a roster. At 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds, Hummel is undersized at the next level to play the 4 and will need to showcase the quickness and agility to play the 3 at the next level.. His shot, though, is a constant. Hummel’s been a spot-on shooter throughout his career, and if he can couple that with showcasing at events like Summer League that he makes the right plays and is in the right position on the floor, there’s a chance he’ll get that opportunity down the road.

“I see him as the next generation—the NBA is changing,” Adelman said. “Carlos Delfino guarded Kevin Love last year. You can get away with it because of the zone defense rules. You can front people, come across, tag. There are different ways to guard different players.”

Hummel is still building on his game, and he’s impressing the coaching staff as well as his teammates this week in Vegas—even guys who are pretty familiar with his game. Demetri McCamey played for the University of Illinois while Hummel was at Purdue, and even after playing head-to-head during those years McCamey said Hummel is surprising him a bit as a teammate in 2013.

“You don’t know how good he is until you actually play with him and see him work at practice and things like that,” McCamey said. “He’s definitely one of the best players I’ve seen from Purdue in a while. He shows it every day for the T-Wolves, training camp to now.”

It feels like Hummel does leave that impression on those who watch him, and that’s why there’s a chance he will have a crack at an NBA roster down the road. He’ll need to prove he is that hybrid-type player who is versatile at the next level—and while the Summer League isn’t a direct correlation on that front it certainly gives NBA personnel a tangible sample size to gauge their evaluations.

In the end, that’s all Hummel is asking for. A fresh start and a chance to prove what he can do.

“I don’t feel a step above,” he said. “I feel like we have a lot of good players out here. A lot of guys trying to prove that they belong in the NBA. I definitely feel like I belong, no question about that. I just want to prove who I am, and I want to play.”

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