What We've Learned from Timberwolves' Summer League

Justin Hussong@@HeatChecksHussContributor IIIJuly 22, 2013

Shabazz Muhammad looked to be in good shape and showed flashes of his potential in his hometown Las Vegas.
Shabazz Muhammad looked to be in good shape and showed flashes of his potential in his hometown Las Vegas.Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

The Minnesota Timberwolves wrapped up their Las Vegas Summer League campaign with a 72-66 victory over Portland on Friday. The squad heads home with a 3-3 record in Sin City and many talking points to look back on.

The boys showed some real grit by going all out on a nightly basis despite the grueling six games in seven days.

Summer league rosters are typically comprised of players with a lot to prove, and the Timberwolves did nothing to refute that by only losing their three games by a total of 12 points. Even in two games against the D-League Selects, the T-Wolves held their own despite a pair of close losses.

The Selects are chock full of fringe NBA players with big chips on their shoulders looking to make a lasting impression and show that they belong. On the other hand, many players on the NBA teams are rookies or second-year guys simply getting their feet wet.

No player in particular stood out too far beyond the pack this time around for Minnesota, but there was a lot learned in a short amount of time. Summer league results are to be taken mostly with a grain of salt. Any player can have an off-night shooting, especially in summer league with the overall rustiness and fast-paced game schedule.

As fans, it is much more comforting to see players look like they belong. We need to know if they looked overwhelmed or if they showed little doubt about their ability to stick at the next level.

The Book is Still Out on Shabazz Muhammad

It was a bit difficult to sum up what we saw from Muhammad in Las Vegas, but we did figure out a few things.

1) He is more than willing to put in the work on defense.

2) He CAN turn into a willing passer and facilitator.

3) A few missed shots will not deter his confidence.

Muhammad's lone strong game on the stat sheet was a 17-point, 6-for-10 shooting night against Sacramento.

Timberwolves' summer league coach David Adelman sounded very pleased with what he saw. Zach Harper of CBS Sports had him saying, "We don't want him to score 25. We want him to be an NBA player."

Adelman also touched base on Muhammad's defense and how he improved throughout the week. For such a maligned player, all the positive words are indicative of the great first impression he has made.

He also rotated in players very evenly. Six players averaged between 8.0 and 8.7 points per game, so it was difficult for anyone to truly make his mark.

This team will present Muhammad with a different opportunity. It will be the first time in his basketball career that he does not have to light up the scoreboard to have a positive effect on the team. He can simply play basketball and work on improving at the moment.

Muhammad proved that he can hit his open jumpers in summer league, as evidenced by his 39 percent success rate from three-point range. For now, he will not be asked to do much more than that.

His defensive intensity and willingness to play team-oriented basketball looked to be a step up from his days at UCLA. In summer league, that is a big positive for a player of his caliber.

Lorenzo Brown Can Ball

Unlike Muhammad, Brown did make a nice dent in the stat sheet.

The NC State product laid down 8.3 points and 2.2 assists per game while also impacting other areas with 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals per night.

Brown contributed to a noticeable trend this year for the Timberwolves. The group nailed 44.3 percent of its threes this summer, with Brown hitting a stellar 50 percent.

He showed an upward trend in his play, culminating his first summer league with an impressive 13-point, eight-rebound and four-assist win in the victory over Portland.

At 6'5", Brown has great size for a point guard and was a constant matchup problem. His size did not appear to hamper his ability to break down point guards off the dribble at all. Brown ducked and weaved his way to the rim on numerous occasions with questionable but correctable finishing ability.

As a second-round draft pick, expectations will remain lukewarm until Brown can knock some socks off. He appeared to be a steal on draft day and did little to change that in Vegas.

With Luke Ridnour returning to Milwaukee, Brown may have just landed himself a spot on this team.

Robbie Hummel Looks Like He Could Stick Around

Hummel made his way over from Spain and showed some promise in his summer league stint. The Purdue alum put up 8.6 points and 5.8 rebounds a night on a cool 47 percent from the floor.

He stood out more than anybody on the roster early on after canning 30 points in the first two games.

Most impressive was his ability to guard three positions. He shifted from the wing to the post on both ends of the floor, particularly impressing on defense.

Management knew he would be a long-term investment after a pair of torn ACLs, but the former second-rounder is slowly moving his way up the pecking order. The defensive prowess was a big plus and a testament to how far he has come.

Minnesota is deep at the forward position with Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger and Dante Cunningham. If anything keeps Hummel off this team, it would most likely be that depth. Other than that, he has made his case for that final roster spot.


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