When Robbie Hummel started his first NBA season with Minnesota back on Oct. 30, he was known largely as a 3-point shooter.
About six months later, the Valparaiso High School and Purdue product enters restricted free agency believing he has expanded his resume.
"I ended up not shooting as well as I thought would," said Hummel, whose 36 percent success from the arc (32 of 89) was right on the league average. "The best thing I did was rebound and defend. Those were two major question marks about me. I haven't been known as a good defender since high school. I showed I can match up with really good guys who are more athletic."
A late-season run of playing time buoyed Hummel's optimism. After a two-month stretch during which he saw little action and spent plenty of games in a suit rather a uniform, Hummel appeared in 19 of the Timberwolves' last 20 games, drawing at least 29 minutes in five of their last seven outings. In the season's final game against Utah, he came up one rebound shy of his first NBA double-double.
"Too bad the season didn't last another three weeks," Hummel said. "I started playing pretty well. I feel really good about the way the season ended. I finished on a positive note. I improved throughout the year, getting more comfortable in the NBA setting. Being comfortable is so big. It's tough to adjust as a rookie."
Hummel gained an appreciation for the grind of an NBA season, marvelling at the ability of superstars like Kevin Love to gut out 40 minutes in back-to-back games. With sporadic playing time, Hummel's challenge was more mental than physical, and the mentorship of veterans like Kevin Martin, Ronny Tauriaf and Corey Brewer proved invaluable in the learning process.
"Looking at my time in Spain, it was definitely a bridge to the NBA," Hummel said. "There's no doubt it's a different animal. You have to be ready. People get hurt. Crazy things happen. Things change game to game. Just make sure you're a professional, come in every day and work hard, get up extra shots and you'll be fine."
Following a few days back at Purdue, Hummel will spend the summer in Chicago, where he's rented a downtown apartment. He'll do the rest and relaxation thing while agent Mark Bartelstein works on the business end in advance of the free agency period after the playoffs. Hummel hopes to return to Minnesota, which has the right to match any offer he receives, though he is open to considering other options that are out there. He doesn't expect the retirement of coach Rick Adelman to change his standing with Minnesota, with management still in place.
"He's one of the best coaches in NBA history. I was fortunate to play for him for a year," Hummel said. "I feel pretty good about my situation. My exit interview went well. We'll see what happens. I just want to have the opportunity to play."
Now an NBA "veteran," Hummel plans, outside of golfing, to return to conduct his basketball camp at The Fieldhouse in Merrillville in June.
"The best part about it was so many people saying, "Wow, what a great camp, I can't wait for next year,'" he said. "That's really gratifying to hear. I'm looking forward to it."