That was unexpected.
— Priority Sports (@PrioritySports) July 22, 2014
Hummel’s option for 2014-15 was not picked up about a month ago, just prior to free agency opening. Given the dearth of available roster spots on Flip Saunders’ roster, it’s certainly a bit of a surprise that the 2012 second-round pick will be returning to Minnesota.
Playing in 53 games and pressed into starting duty in 5 contests, Hummel was actually a pretty neutral and sometimes valuable contributer for Rick Adelman‘s Wolves. Unfortunately, Adelman struggled to use or not use Hummel consistently. There did not seem to be too much of a rhyme or reason as to why Hummel would see heavy minutes one day and be inactive shortly thereafter.
While obviously not possessing elite, top-flight athleticism, Hummel can absolutely carve a niche in today’s NBA. He finished the season shooting 36% from three-point range, but many believe that he could ultimately post a better number from behind the arc once he begins to receive more consistent minutes as a role player off the bench.
He is not a starting-caliber NBA player, and he should not be relied on for more than 16-18 minutes per game at maximum, but his shooting range and impressive 16.6% defensive rebounding rate are nothing to sneeze at, and especially not when they come along with a league-minimum salary. In fact, the only players that outrebounded Hummel on the defensive end of the court on the roster last year were Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng, and Ronny Turiaf. Hummel is 6′ 8″ and does not jump high.
In other words, Hummel understands positioning and expends effort to get to loose balls on the defensive end of the court. Despite not being a very good on-ball defender, the ability to pick the ball up off the glass and end an opponents possession cannot be overlooked.
If this is a guaranteed contract for the league minimum or even potentially a non-guaranteed contract, it’s a very good signing for the Wolves. (Edit: Darren Wolfson reports that it is a one-year, $900k fully-guaranteed contract.) Cheap shooting and positive production off the bench is vital for teams to have in today’s NBA, and Hummel will provide that at minimal cost.
Now, if he sees any minutes as a starter, we’ll have a whole separate issue on our hands…