Note: This piece is the third part in a continuing series that takes a look at the point guard situation in Milwaukee. In late July, I started out by taking a look at new Bucks additions Jerryd Bayless and Kendall Marshall. To end the series, we’re going to examine 2nd year point guard Nate Wolters, who’s going to enter the season as a potential dark-horse threat to take control of the starting point guard position.
During the prior season when the Bucks were in the middle of their worst season in team history, there still remained a handful of bright spots in an otherwise rough campaign. One of those shining marks was Nate Wolters, who entered his rookie season as an unheralded 6’3 point guard from North Dakota State. Coming into the season, Wolters was looked at as an afterthought as he was looked at as the team’s third point guard behind recent acquisitions Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour. However, things started to go into Nate’s corner as the season started to progress.
As the 2013-14 campaign started to move forward and Milwaukee’s playoff hopes quickly turned into lottery aspirations, Wolters’ role inside the Bucks rotation started to grow. As his role within the Bucks roster started to grow, so did the skills that made him into one of the best mid-major guards during his time with North Dakota State.
One of those traits that was able to transfer from North Dakota State to Milwaukee was his abilities as a facilitator. That particular skil was clearly showcased by his team-best 3.22 Ast/TO ratio, which topped the likes of Ricky Rubio, Rajon Rondo and Kyle Lowry. One of the huge aspects that makes that number impressive is the fact that Wolters was able to be so effective with a limited amount of offensive weapons that surrounded him.
Wolters was able to counter Milwaukee’s lack of notable offensive weapons with a variety of different tactics. For example, the 6’3 guard has the ability to capture the opposition’s attention by cutting towards the paint and kicking it out to an open opponent. One of the biggest examples of Wolters’ facilitating abilities is showcased by Milwaukee shooting 38% from three when the 6’3 guard was on-the-court, compared to 34% when he was watching from the sidelines.
Besides his work as one of the more efficient distributors in the league, Wolters showcased a strong ability to work around the opposition to cut to the rim. Even though he does have his issues around the restricted area while also tending to be out-muscled by larger opponents, the 6’3 guard has been able to showcase an extremely strong ability to utilize his athleticism around the rim to get the best shot.
As he transfers into his 2nd season into the league, Wolters will need to elevate his all-around offensive arsenal to be able to make a bigger impact in Milwaukee. Besides his work as a cutter, Wolters was an extremely inefficient shooting threat, when he moved away from the rim. From eight feet to the perimeter, Wolters only shot 37% which is an exceptionally pedestrian shooting percentage. With that in mind, the 6’3 guard was able to showcase an ability from score from all aspects of the court which lead to him being one of the more heralded players in college basketball. He’ll need to be able to showcase that skill at an NBA level, if he wants to be able to elevate himself in Milwaukee’s rotation.
From a defensive perspective, Wolters’ physical limitations could potentially restrict his potential on that end of the ball. Even though Wolters showcases some solid defensive fundamentals that are apparent by his ability to quickly work around pick-and-roll screens and stick by his designated opponent, the 6’3 guard is regularly outmatched by quicker and more athletic players.
While Nate Wolters will probably have a key role in Milwaukee’s continued rebuilding process, he still has a handful of notable flaws. One of those biggest issues rests in his ability to score away from the rim. As previously mentioned, Wolters became more ineffective as he moved away from the rim. Even though his facilitating skills are going to be huge going forward, Wolters will need to have an effective perimeter or mid-range shot if he wants to see an increased role in Milwaukee’s rotation.
New Milwaukee additions Kendall Marshall and Jerryd Bayless each have different aspects of their games that could help the Bucks moving forward, which could ultimately Wolters. With that in mind, the NDSU alum is just entering his 2nd NBA season so it wouldn’t be totally out of the question to see him turn into a much improved offensive weapon in the 2014-15 season.