A Look at Jazz Guard Nate Wolters

September 12th, 2017 | by David J Smith


The SLC Stars are the G-League affiliate of the Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz have reportedly added an 18th player, with point guard Nate Wolters being the latest addition in what has been a busy off-season for the team. Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune broke the news first.

Wolters is an interesting pick-up, for a few reasons. First, he has some solid NBA experience. After an excellent four-year collegiate career at South Dakota State (22.3 PPG, 5.8 APG, 5.6 RPG as a senior), he was the 38th pick in the 2013 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards1. Because the NBA wanted to welcome him warmly to the business side of things, he was traded twice within 24 hours. When the dust settled, he found himself on the Milwaukee Bucks roster.

That proved to be a fortunate situation for him. Due to some point guard injuries in Milwaukee, Wolters was thrust immediately into a rotation role. He actually started 31 of his 58 games that campaign, posting solid numbers (7.2 PPG, 3.2 APG, 2.6 RPG in 22.6 MPG). While his shooting was so-so, it was much better post-All-Star break (50 FG% and 45.8 3% over 17 consecutive starts). Wolters proved to be a heady player who worked hard and made few mistakes, as evidenced by his 3.28 assist/turnover ratio. His savvy play was a highlight during a tough year for the Bucks. Starting alongside Brandon Knight, Wolters provided Milwaukee with another capable ball handler and facilitator. His promising rookie year was cut short when he suffered a fractured hand with a month left.

As the Bucks guard corp got healthy, Wolters saw his playing time plummet the next season, and he was eventually waived. He earned a pair of 10-day pacts with the New Orleans Pelicans, but ended up finishing the season with the Grand Rapids Drive of the D-League.  Wolters was in the Denver Nuggets’ training camp last fall, but was cut midway through the preseason. He has gone the international route the past two years, spending time in Turkey and Serbia. Last year, he helped lead his Crvena zvezda team to both the ABA League and Serbian League championship.

Second, while he will most likely spend most of the season with the Salt Lake City Stars, Wolters provides a bit of point guard insurance for the Jazz. Simply put, he can play in the NBA. He is a point guard who looks to set his teammates up. At 6-4, he has good size for his position. Wolters is scrappy and does not mind doing the dirty work on the court, such as working the boards from his back court position. Wolters demonstrated solid ability to run a team, often looking to set his teammates up. That said, in college, he proved he could score. He is still just 26, so could end up finding a niche in the NBA. Should injuries arise, Quin Snyder would have another option to help bridge some gaps. He will need to improve his consistency as a shooter, especially from long-distance. In a way, he could be filling a spot for the Jazz that might have been occupied by 2nd-round pick Nigel Williams-Goss, who opted to spend his first professional season overseas.

The inception of the two-way contract this season will be something to watch throughout the league. The new contract type allows teams to have up to two additional roster players that mostly play for the affiliated G-League team, but can be called up without require the Jazz to make a cut elsewhere. Two-way players make G-League scale salary while they’re with the development club, but make the prorated minimum salary for every day they’re up with the parent team.

The Jazz are taking full advantage, with Wolters and athletic big man Eric Griffin as their two signees. Both are intriguing players the Jazz now have in the fold. They will be able to observe them closely, with the luxury of bringing them up for a total of 45 days during the 170-day season. Utah has a number of players on cost-effective contracts, so if one of these two (or another player elsewhere) proves to be someone to help the team, eating a contract would not be too costly. In fact, the Jazz will have to cut a player with some guaranteed money prior to the start of the season.

The Jazz still have two training camp roster spots available. Media day is just two weeks away, so those invitees should be announced fairly soon.

David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and Hoopsworld.com (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife, Elizabeth, have some amazing children--four girls and two boys. Voted "Most Likely to Replace Jerry Sloan" in high school.
David J Smith

One Comment

  1. don peacock says:

    Two-way contract, NBA is allowing this season, makes me want to become an NBA fan again.

    Nate is a Gym Rat, his work ethic is legendary, we surely miss him here at South Dakota State University.

    He was very effective, as noted, in rookie season with Milwaukee Bucks.

    Utah fans will be rewarded with a great player and even better role model off the floor. Hope he stays healthy and look for that trademark floater in the lane.

    Go Jazz/Stars

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