MINNEAPOLIS — As Robbie Hummel crisscrossed the country working out for NBA teams leading up to the draft, all he was looking for was a chance.
After being unable to pull off any trades to get up into the first round, the Minnesota Timberwolves were there at the end of the second round, waiting to give him one.
The Wolves chose Hummel with the 58th overall pick in the draft on Thursday night, just two picks before it concluded. Now Hummel will go to camp with the Timberwolves, hoping to show them that his major knee injuries are behind him and he's ready to resume a career that was once very promising.
"I thought that the season, especially towards the end of the season, he started to show signs of his return to form before his injury," Timberwolves president David Kahn said. "Robbie was quite a player before his injury. Quite a player. In fact, if he hadn't been hurt, I think most people would agree that he was a first-round pick in our league."
Hummel tore the ACL in his right knee twice while in college, derailing an impressive start to his Boilermakers career that had many projecting him as an eventual lottery pick. The 6-foot-8 forward played all of last season as a senior, but said that he never really felt 100 percent recovered after missing the end of the 2009-10 season and all of 2010-11.
Hummel was not available for comment on Thursday night. He worked out for the Timberwolves and a host of other teams at Target Center earlier this summer, and said then that he knew he had a lot to prove.
"I always knew I'd come back and play," Hummel said after that workout. "I just didn't know if I was going to be any good. For a while during last season, I didn't shoot the ball very well. It was frustrating. I didn't know If would play well again. People kept telling me, 'Don't worry, it's going to come.' And they were right. It did."
In desperate need of improved perimeter shooting, the Timberwolves were happy to take Hummel at the end of the second round. Hummel averaged 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a senior.
"He'll have every opportunity to make our basketball club," Kahn said. "We didn't take him to put him in Europe. I'm sure he'll compete very aggressively for a spot."
The move was the culmination of an unusually quiet draft night for Kahn. In his three years on the job, he has quickly gained the reputation as an aggressive wheeler and dealer who won't hesitate to move up or down and look to accumulate future draft picks. He made six trades on dizzying draft night last year, moving down the draft board, stockpiling cash and future picks when the players he coveted were not available.
The Wolves did not have a first-round pick on Thursday night after trading the 18th selection to Houston for veteran swingman Chase Budinger earlier this week. Kahn said on Wednesday that he would not rule out trying to move back into the first round if a player they coveted was falling, and the Wolves went to work to try to do just that as Duke forward Miles Plumlee was hanging around in the 20s.
When the Indiana Pacers chose Plumlee, who worked out twice for the Timberwolves, with the 26th overall pick, the Wolves ended their efforts to move up.
"We had a little bit of activity, but I think it would be mischaracterization to say it was even remotely close," Kahn said. "Because I know what close feels like and it didn't feel close."
Now the Timberwolves will turn their eyes toward other moves to balance the roster. Budinger was a start, but Kahn promised to be very active through trades and free agency to continue addressing needs for a young team that considers itself on the rise.
"It's going to be a pretty hectic next few weeks," Kahn said. "I think that's league-wide, not just for us."
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