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Overstating Hummel’s loss? No way

What to do with Purdue? No one seems to know.

Robbie Hummel’s season-ending injury created a dilemma for anyone dumb enough (like me) doing a preseason Top 25. It’s hard enough to rank teams without seeing them play any games. It’s harder still when a team loses its best all-around player and shooter. Purdue’s adjusting, but it’s anyone’s guess as to just how good it’ll be.

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Brent Drinkut/AP

(Not to mention losing two starters in Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer. It’s not like Purdue only lost Hummel. The starting PG and the lock-down perimeter defender are also gone, both of whom were crucial in Purdue’s Sweet 16 run last season. Kramer averaged 13.5 ppg in those two NCAA tourney wins. Anyway.)

The Boilermakers were slated to be a Top 4 team with Hummel. Without, they’ve been slotted anywhere from eighth (coaches’ poll), to late teens (Gary Parrish), to 23rd (Andy Katz) to 26th (yours truly).

Should one player affect a team’s ranking that much? Ken Pomeroy thinks not.

Look at it this way - Temple was previously 23rd in Katz’s list. If you added a healthy Hummel to Temple, I don’t think you would consider the Owls to be national-title material. If you think Hummel had some special value to Purdue that he wouldn’t have on another team, leave him out of the argument for a second. Pick any player in college basketball and add him to Temple’s roster. He still couldn’t make the Owls’ the second-best team in America.

It’s a fair argument, but I think Ken’s underrating Hummel.

Here’s Hummel’s stat line from 2009-10:

15.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 45.6 FG%, 36.4 three-point% 90 FT%

Good right? Now consider his best tempo-free stats:

122.1 ORtg, 26.0 %Shots, 20.8 DR%, 3.6 Blk%, 4.8 FD/40

Some of that might look like gibberish, but the ORtg (offensive rating, or how efficiently he scores) is 46th best in D-I - and 15 points higher than JaJuan Johnson’s. It’s nearly 20 points higher than E’Twuan Moore’s. Hummel also took a quarter of the available shots, hit the defensive boards at a higher rate than Johnson, blocked shots and drew fouls at a high rate for a guy who’s best as a spot-up shooter.

Put it this way: Purdue’s still capable of being a Top 25 team. The defense will be nasty and Johnson and Moore are elite players. But the Boilermakers will struggle to score, and when they do, it won’t be pretty. Hummel solves most of that by stretching the defense and opening up things for others.

Would Hummel make Temple a Final Four contender? Absolutely. There’s always room for a 6-8 forward who can handle the ball, rebound and hit 3s. Every team wants that guy. Especially those teams in the 15-25 range of a Top 25 poll.

In fact, I’d say the team at No. 18 in my Top 25 would love to have Hummel. The only reason Butler’s not a serious Final Four contender this season is that they’re missing Gordon Hayward.

You know who plays like Gordon Hayward? Robbie Hummel.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.