As a D-League writer over at Ridiculous Upside, I cherish the task of trying to find the next “hidden treasure” wherever it would be. While most writers are talking about the latest issues of the NBA Finals, yours truly digs deep through the many different sites and resources to find that obscure prospect who could have potential as he makes his way to the pros. While this certain subject is pretty well-known around draft circles, there’s still a certain uncertainty surrounding him because of the small midwestern school that he attended. This mysterious, obscure prospect is Nate Wolters who’s the 6’5 point guard from South Dakota State.
In the weird and crazy jungle that’s known as Division I Basketball, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits reign supreme as the top species of the Summit League. A good majority of the team’s success can be pointed to Wolters who has been their leader since the start of his sophomore season. While Wolters is looked at as the team’s main distributor, he’s known nationwide for his immense scoring ability.
Last season, the 6’1 guard joined an elite class by averaging over 20 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds per game. His offensive arsenal was extremely expansive because of his unique ability to score from anywhere around the court from deep inside the paint to around the perimeter. Around 60% of his offensive possessions came in either isolations or pick and rolls which is common for most PG’s in the NBA. When he does make the transition to the pros, Wolters will probably work best in pick and roll sets because of his perimeter ability and the general concern surrounding his future as a penetrator because of his real lack of lateral quickness. While he was able to regularly drive to the paint and get to the FT line (6.1 free throws made per 40 minutes) while with the Jackrabbits, Wolters did struggle mightily when he went against some of the better competition like Alabama or Michigan.
With that said, he’s still a very crafty and intelligent ball-handler who could change speeds on a dime which would work when he’s trying to break free from his defender while working in the pick and roll. Wolters will have a career in the league because of his scoring ability but that should take away from his solid ability to facilitate the offense. He has solid court vision and can easily find the open man but there might still be some issues if he struggles to drive to the paint and kick it out to an open perimeter shooter.
While he might struggle to work his way to the basket in the NBA, Wolters will use that craftiness to his advantage by either hitting a step back mid-range jumper or putting up a floater which are some of the more lethal tools he has in his arsenal. When he’s not trying to work his way around a defender, Wolters was an extremely solid perimeter shooter (38% from behind the three-point line) because of his quick but quirky release.
Defensively is where Wolters might struggle the most because of his real lack of quickness that will be a hinderance when he’s going against some of the quicker guards in the league. While he’s both an aggressive and intelligent defender, his potential on that side of the court is limited because of the aforementioned issues involving his lateral quickness and below average length (6’3 wingspan).
Overall, Wolters will probably make a good career for himself in the NBA because of his overall ability as an offensive player. His defensive potential is a bit worrisome but his offense is solid enough that he could make a niche in this league as a fringe starter or solid backup.