Another Milwaukee Bucks rookie is beginning to make a name for himself. While Giannis Antetokounmpo is the envy of the league, second-round pick Nate Wolters has been nearly as impressive and could turn into a real asset sooner rather than later. In Tuesday night’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Wolters played one of his best games as a professional, tallying 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds while turning the ball over just once.
Ball security has been one of Wolters’ strengths throughout his rookie season. Prior to the New Orleans game, he was ranked fourth in the NBA with a 3.72 assist-to-turnover ratio. His per-game averages of 6.6 points and 3.4 assists seem modest, but have been put up while playing extremely inconsistent minutes as the team continues to find its best rotations and deal with injuries to practically everyone on the roster. Wolters’ PER of 12.8 exceeds that of Antetokounmpo.
It’s no wonder that Wolters has struggled to find his shot at times in such a difficult situation. However, an uptick in scoring should be expected as his career progresses. In his senior season at South Dakota State University, Wolters ranked fourth in the nation in points per game at 22.3. He also became the first Summit League player to ever earn All-American honors with a third-team selection.
Wolters could do well to model his game after a player like Steve Nash – take care of the ball, distribute to teammates and make open shots when he gets them. Comparisons to the two-time MVP shouldn’t be made lightly, but Wolters’ per-36 averages compare favorably to those of Nash in his rookie campaign. Turnovers are often an issue with rookie guards, and even a great like Nash coughed the ball up at a rate twice that of Wolters so far.
The Bucks have very few solid building blocks currently on the team, and nearly everyone’s name has come up in trade talks. Wolters should at the very least develop into a very solid backup point guard. The team would be wise to see what exactly he can become.