Mar 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Brandon Paul (3) drives against Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Austin Hollins (20) in the second half during the first round of the Big Ten tournament at the United Center. Illinois won 51-49. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Timberwolves have one roster spot left if they sign all their rookies. I suspect the Wolves will use this last spot to sign a player from their Summer League team as they come cheap and can provide valuable minutes. Here are the three most likely players to be signed by the Wolves from the Summer League.
Hummel is a 6’8 small forward out of Purdue. He has been playing in Spain for the last season for the ABC League which is one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA. Currently Hummel is averaging 11 ppg along with 6.7 rpg. Hummel is a physical player who will go up for every rebound whether it be offensive or defensive and while he is only an average defender he is a physical defender who will dog his man up and down the court. Offensively Hummel is a great three point shooter and is shooting an astounding 50% from deep. The three point shot is Hummel’s best quality which the Wolves sorely needed last season. I could see Hummel develop into a valuable role player with Kyle Korver being his ceiling. I saw this because both can shoot the three point but can come off the bench as three point specialists and also play solid defense and grab a few rebounds. Although Hummel is a quality player with the Wolves recent signing of Corey Brewer it wouldn’t be smart to sign Hummel. Derrick Williams and Hummel are also similar players as both are tweeners who can hit the boards. Overall Hummel isn’t the best fit for the Wolves.
Chris Johnson is a 6’11 center and unlike the other two on this list he has NBA experience. The Wolves called Johnson up from the D League last January because of all the injuries they didn’t even have enough players to play. Johnson has averaged 21.7 mpg, 7.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, and 1.7 bpg. Offensively, Johnson has a great mid range game and excels at passing out of the post shown by his 2 apg average. Unlike most other centers Johnson can also drive to the basket. Defensively, Johnson is a great rebounder but is inconsistent at defending the post. An NBA comparison for Johnson would be Chris Anderson. Both are high energy players who can grab rebounds and pass out of the post. Unfortunately for Johnson, with the recent signing of Ronny Turiaf, and a big contract offered to Nikola Pekovic, it looks like Minnesota’s front court rotation is solidified and there is likely no spot for him the Wolve’s rotation.
6’4 combo guard Brandon Paul was largely expected to be drafted out of Illinois but he went undrafted and Minnesota capitalized signing him onto their Summer League team. Paul hasn’t played big minutes but his stats currently are: 11.3 mpg, 8.0 ppg, and 1.0 spg. Again he is not playing big minutes but those stats are solid for 11 mpg. Paul is a knockdown free throw shooter shooting 100% so far. Paul can also shoot the three ball shooting 44% from downtown. Paul has already improved his shot selection from his days at Illinois and will pass if he doesn’t have a good shot, which is something no Illinois fan has ever heard him do as he was the primary scoring option for the majority of years he spent with Illinois. Paul is only an average defender but could become better as is fast and athletic. Paul’s ceiling looks something like former Timberwolves Wesley Johnson. Paul can shoot better than Johnson but Johnson is bigger. I see the Wolves signing Brandon Paul because he can knock down shots from behind the arc and his athleticism that can turn him into a good defender. Paul will be happy because he made an NBA team and Minnesota is close to his home in Illinois. He is the best fit in Minnesota.
All these players are skilled and have NBA potential but with only one roster spot left the Wolves have to sign the person that they need the most and that fits into Rick Adelman’s system. Brandon Paul is the man for the job and if the Wolves do chose to sign him, he could become a valuable player off the bench and make a name for himself as a Timberwolf.