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Nate Wolters

 

Nate Wolters

 

South Dakota State Jackrabbits      Senior          Point Guard/Shooting Guard      #3

 

6'4"     190 Pounds                21 Years Old             From: St. Cloud, MN

 

Overview: Wolters may be the hottest name from a small college basketball program in the country right now and for good reason. He has done it all for 4 years as a member of the Jackrabbits. He has been First Team All-Summit League for the past three seasons and won the conference's Player of the Year award this season. Wolters does it all for his team; he leads the team in scoring and assists and is second in rebounds per game. He likes to play with the ball in his hands and has good size for a point guard.

 

Offensively, there is very little that Wolters cannot do for his club. First and foremost, as a point guard, he does a great job recognizing the tempo that his team needs to play at and can adjust in response to what their opponents are doing. He has a great sense for when to push the ball but also recognizes when it's best to bring the ball out and run the offense. While Wolters isn't earth-shatteringly athletic, he has very quick dribbling moves, which allow him to get into the lane with relative ease. One of his best moves is his right-handed inside-out dribble. Wolters typically fools defenders into thinking he's going to try to cross them up, and can blow by them to get into the lane. Once he's in the lane, he's deadly. Wolters has very nice touch on his floater and can make some impossible looking push shots even when he's well defended. Because of this, defenses help quite rapidly on him. When he hits the lane, he's always looking up and often will distribute the basketball to one of his open teammates. He has phenomenal court vision. While he does his best work with the ball in his hands, when off the ball, he cuts well and uses the court and screens effectively to get open. He has a very good jumpshot with a quick release. While his release point is a bit lower than desirable and the mechanics are unorthodox, he gets his shot off very quickly. Wolters shoots just under 40% from 3 point land and is an 81% free throw shooter. Because he's the focal point of his team's offense, many of his three point attempts come off the dribble rather than in a catch and shoot position. Due to his low release point, there are doubts about whether he will be able to get his shot off against more athletic defenders.

 

Wolters' lack of elite physical gifts have undoubtedly led to concerns about whether or not he will be able to defend  at the next level. Wolters does not have great lateral quickness, which makes him vulnerable to getting beaten off the dribble by more athletic guards. His lack of explosiveness also makes it tougher for him to recover to his man if he does get beaten; he's improved over time but still needs to work on cutting his man off and getting to the spot his man wants to get to. Despite the deficiencies, he's a smart defensive player who can hold his own in a good team defense system. He plays alert and doesn't gamble. Knowing he isn't the quickest, he'll often play slightly further off his matchup, willing to concede a jumpshot before a layup. This may be an issue in the NBA, where a lot of quick point guards are also great shooters. Wolters has a high IQ and knows when are where he has help defense covering his lapses, which helps. Lastly, he plays with full intensity on defense which is a valuable intangible.

 

Overall, Wolters is a very intriguing prospect. He isn't super athletic but has a high IQ, good size, and a very good offensive game. Playing at South Dakota State obviously means that he hasn't been exposed to elite competition on a night to night basis so he faces the same challenges that many small school prospects face. He can certainly benefit from a strong showing in the NCAA Tournament this year. A good game against Trey Burke and Michigan can really strengthen his draft stock. As of now, he's a mid-second round pick who can certainly find niches at the NBA level to contribute with even if his lack of athleticism limits him from having an extremely high ceiling.

 

 

 

Key Strengths:

 

·      He always makes the right play. Wolters has a very high basketball IQ and always makes the right decision with regards to passing to open teammates or taking the offense into his own hands and trying to score himself.

·      While not blessed with great athleticism, Wolters is quick offensively. He is a very good ball handler and has dribbling moves that enhance his first step and his ability to blow by defenders. He isn't the quickest but he can certainly get into the lane.

·      Wolters rebounds extremely well for his size. While rebounding isn't a hotly desired commodity in a point guard, he is willing to go in and secure possession for his team.

·      Wolters is a very good shooter, his release isn't great and he has some difficulty getting his shot off against athletic defenders but he does have a quick release and can punish defenses for leaving him alone. He has very good touch in the lane with his floater.

·      He is a smart defender; he understands his physical deficiencies, and plays to his team's system.

·      He has great size for a point guard at 6'4".

 

Areas to Improve

 

·      Athleticism is his biggest question heading into the NBA, specifically when it comes to projecting Wolters as a defender. Without improved lateral quickness, he will struggle defensively to stay in front of most NBA point guards.

·      Coming out of a smaller school, he hasn't played many games against elite talent. The upcoming NCAA Tournament on a national stage against very good players can strongly impact his draft stock either positively or negatively.

·      Wolters should rework his shooting mechanics to get a higher release point. He already has a size advantage on point guards so a higher release point, if he can maintain the same quickness, will really help him get his shot off against athletic NBA point guards.