Roster Review: Robbie Hummel

Benjamin Polk —  May 19, 2014 — 3 Comments

Last week, in reviewing Othyus Jeffers’ brief tenure with the Wolves, I made mention of the thin line separating NBA rotation players from D-Leaguers. The same could be said of the margin between making an NBA roster out of training camp and finding yourself on the outside looking in. In this most recent Timberwolves’ preseason, four players were competing for the team’s final two roster spots. AJ Price and second-round pick Lorenzo Brown were vying to be the team’s third point guard. And Robbie Hummel and Jeffers were competing for the team’s final wing spot.

Hummel, a not-terribly-athletic 24-year-old rookie with two surgically reconstructed knees may have seemed like the longshot of the two. But he had two things going for him that Jeffers did not: First, Hummel had a reputation as a three-point shooter. And the Wolves, still in morning-after mode after the worst outside shooting season basically ever, were desperate for three-point shooters. Second, Hummel’s size (he’s not the 6’8″ he’s listed at, but he’s still a big guard) allows him to guard multiple positions. Jeffers can’t say the same. Hummel made the team.

Let’s take the last part first. Hummel is indeed a versatile defender who can guard twos, threes and the occasional four. He doesn’t lock anyone down or create holy chaos like Corey Brewer, and you certainly wouldn’t want to stick him on your opponent’s most dynamic scorer, but his court awareness, body positioning and great effort generally mitigate his lack of footspeed. He grabs some rebounds he probably shouldn’t be able to grab; he contests some shots you wouldn’t think he could contest. The Wolves were able to plug him into various spots in the lineup throughout the year without being punished too severely for it.

All of these are useful things. If Hummel had turned out to be a great or even above-average three-point shooter, they would feel like nice corollary benefits. (As in: “Wow, what a shooter–and how nice that he plays hard and can passably guard three positions!”) But Hummel was not an above-average three-point shooter; he was an exactly average three-point shooter, (I mean exactly: both the league as a whole and Hummel himself hit 36% of their threes). And hitting wide-open, spot-up threes is by far the best thing Hummel does. Once he moves inside the arc, things get dicey. 27.3% of Hummel’s field goal attempts came in the dreaded “long-two” zone–and he hit just 29.2% of those shots. He isn’t quick or skilled enough to create space for himself off the dribble and he isn’t athletic enough to hit contested shots.

And so, despite his average three-point shooting, despite his skill at spotting up in open space on the floor, Hummel’s True Shooting rate was a deeply below-average 49.2%. In other words, he wasn’t really helping the team much offensively. Indeed, Hummel’s mediocrity was a contributing factor to the Wolves’ difficulties off the bench this season and their general lack of outside shooting by players not named Kevin. I would be surprised if Hummel finds himself in a Wolves uniform again next season.

 

Benjamin Polk

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3 responses to Roster Review: Robbie Hummel

  1. You’re leaving out one massive thing and that’s his contract. Hummel made league minimum this year and will probably make the same next year. Having a semi versatile guy who can sort of shoot 3s for $500k as one of the 10th-15th people on your roster is actually valuable and a pretty good outcome for a second round pick. When someone goes down for a week or two you plug Hummel in and other than that he only sees the floor during garbage time… I’m happy bringing Hummel back for that role.

  2. One other thing you missed. It took Hummel some time to find his groove. He shout just 29% from three before the All Star break but 44% after.

  3. Yeah, I also want him back. He was miscast as only a shooter when he clearly plays good team defense and average-to-good individual defense. He’s also an above-average rebounder for a 3 and an average rebounder for a 4. For the money, I think he’d work well as the backup 4 in small lineups (with some minimum-salary brawler playing against bigger lineups), and I don’t know why he wouldn’t be more effective as the backup 3 than Luc. I could see an analytically-savvy team picking him up for peanuts and him becoming a 40% 3 point shooting stretch 4; I hope the Wolves see his potential value.

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