Why the Wolves should add Minnesota native Nate Wolters


The Wolves should claim Nate Wolters, St. Cloud, Minnesota native and soon-to-be-former Milwaukee Buck point guard when he hits the waiver wire.

Wolters was a second-round pick, 38th overall by the Bucks in 2013 and started 31 games as a rookie for last year’s woeful 15-67 squad. Under new coach Jason Kidd, Wolters has often been a healthy inactive and appeared in just 11 games to this point.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Bucks would waive Wolters in order to sign veteran journeyman Kenyon Martin to a ten-day contract. It’s absolutely a curious decision by Milwaukee, who is currently staying afloat with a 19-18 record and slotted into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

It seems short-sighted, especially for a team that hasn’t been consistently good in a long time and continues to preach patience and a successful rebuilding project in motion. Wolters was solid last year, especially for a rookie point guard. He’s big with good vision and solid decision-making skills, and although he struggled from the field as a rookie, it’s certainly conceivable that he will improve his shooting stroke.

Martin will be in his age-37 season, and obviously doesn’t add anything other than depth for the remaining three months of the season. And once Ersan Ilyasova returns to action, the Bucks will have more than enough power forwards, especially with Khris Middleton playing as well as he has of late.

It’s not like the Wolves need more young, inexperienced players, but they do need point guards. There are zero healthy, pure point guards on the roster with Ricky Rubio out, and both Mo Williams and Zach LaVine have been masquerading as full-time point guards that are being forced to play outside their optimal minute ranges.

Williams has been better of late and is, in theory, a nice change-of-pace backup to Rubio once he’s able to move back to the bench upon the Spaniard’s return. But his extreme shoot-first nature and nearly league-worst defense at the position (save for his teammate, LaVine) are a detriment to the team. Wolters would be an upgrade in from a team defense standpoint as well as in terms of running the offense.

The Wolves would have to find an alternate way to clear a roster spot since they made the Miroslav Raduljica signing official earlier today (our analysis of that move here) and already waived Jeff Adrien. It’s tough to say how they would go about doing that, but a move with either Glenn Robinson III or perhaps Chase Budinger would be possibilities.

Wolters shoots a huge number of his field goal attempts from within three feet of the basket, and well over half of them inside ten feet over his brief career. His height and length are helpful in getting those shots off, but obviously they need to eventually fall with improved accuracy. Take a look at Wolters’ heatmap from his rookie season from NBAsavant.com:

In addition to all of the shots around the rim, Wolters also shot 44.4% in a handful of three-point attempts from the corner. He was an 80.3% free throw shooter over four years at South Dakota State, so there is plenty of reason to believe that he’ll improve on his 63.8% from the charity stripe thus far in the NBA, and it’s also a decent future predictor of long-range shooting. He also shot 37.9% from beyond the arc in his senior year of college.

At any rate, it seems unlikely that the Wolves will take the leap. That would mean admitting a mistake in keeping only one true point guard on the roster and playing LaVine heavy minutes at that spot instead of having another option and developing him as a two-guard. And the roster spot issue is probably the biggest hurdle anyway. Flip Saunders isn’t waiving Robinson to add him, and to this point, nobody else has wanted to take on Budinger’s contract.

Don’t expect a change. But it would be for the better.

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