In the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ latest game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Wolves’ rookies all played substantial minutes. While coach Rick Adelman played the rookies heavily in an insignificant preseason game, it remains to be seen how much they will play once the regular season gets underway. For first round picks Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, their playing time will be decided largely on their performance, as both of them have the opportunity to be second string at their positions early on. For 2013 second round pick Lorenzo Brown and 2012 second round pick Robbie Hummel, they probably won’t see many minutes if they make the team, but the possibility is always there for one of them to step up.
Muhammad and Dieng both played more than 20 minutes last night, and they rewarded Wolves fans with hard, efficient play. Muhammad scored 11 points on 3-6 shooting and 5-6 shooting from the line. He also grabbed four rebounds, including three offensive rebounds. Dieng scored six points on 3-6 shooting and pulled in nine rebounds. During the regular season, 20 minutes is probably the ceiling for both of these players, though they’ll probably get far less to start things out. If they can use their minutes effectively, there should be plenty of playing time available at each of their positions.
Hummel played 22 minutes against the Bucks and Brown played 13. Neither of them should get minutes like that during the regular season barring some crazy circumstances. Hummel did what he does best and shot the ball 10 times. He wasn’t terribly efficient, making only three of his shots, but one of them was a three, and he went 3-3 from the line, so he ended up with 10 points. He has played well when given the opportunity this summer, and with Chase Budinger’s injury, it seems likely that he’ll grab the 15th roster spot. Brown has played fairly well this summer as well, but he wasn’t on against the Bucks, going 2-8 with just one assist. Brown will probably get a shot sometime this season, as the Wolves’ backcourt isn’t too deep. If Hummel and Brown make the final roster, they will be at the end of the bench earning 5-10 minutes per game, if that, to start the season. As we’ve seen with Timberwolves teams in the past, however, you never know what will happen, and either of them could play a larger role if they shine, or fill a need later in the season.
The Timberwolves are lucky, in that they have four very talented rookies, all of whom can play NBA ball right now. With a solid team of established players, however, the rookies will need to earn their minutes. All of the Wolves’ rookies have displayed some flash this offseason — Muhammad is a scorer who has played with more effort than his reputation would have led us to believe, Dieng has blocked shots and rebounded, Hummel has shot well and played intelligent basketball, and Brown has run the offense with confidence. Look for Muhammad to try to make an impact early this season, and watch the rest of the rookies develop and earn minutes as the season progresses.