NBA Draft Capsule: South Dakota State PG Nate Wolters

NBA Draft Capsule: South Dakota State PG Nate Wolters
June 4, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Nate Wolters, 6-foot-4 point guard, South Dakota State: Virtually an unknown to casual fans, the savvy floor general is no stranger to professional scouts. Not an elite athlete, Wolters' feel for the game, size and playmaking ability is what intrigues NBA personnel people.

Career highlights: Despite subpar performances in back-to-back NCAA Tournament first-round losses in his final two seasons, Wolters earned a reputation for excelling against top competition. A 28-point, seven-assist game in an upset of nationally-ranked New Mexico, 34-point outing in a win over Washington as a junior and 25 points and nine assists in a sophomore-year victory over Iowa were just some of his more notable outbursts. The triple-double threat didn't take it easy on conference foes either, as evidenced by an outrageous 53-point torching of Summit League rival IPFW. Additionally, just by leading the Jackrabbits to the "Big Dance" in consecutive campaigns, he's regarded as not just a talent, but a leader.

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Strengths: The Minnesota native was a prolific scorer in college, but has pass-first instincts and with better teammates in the NBA, his playmaking ability should translate well to the next level. Wolters plays at his own pace, understands the game and uses his size to both see over the defense and mix it up in the paint as a rebounder. His improved shooting numbers bode well for shot selection and in a league with offenses dominated by pick-and-roll play, his mature decision-making will be a major benefit for a young player.

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Weaknesses: Wolters will be challenged on the defensive side of the ball by the explosive point guards that are increasingly populating the NBA landscape and while he has good size, his lack of top-tier athleticism poses an issue if he's asked to defend most shooting guards. Also, he's not quite a pure shooter and unless he proves that he consistently penetrate into the paint, establishing himself as a legitimate scoring threat will be an uphill battle.

Draft projection: Wolters is generally considered an early-to-mid second-round candidate, but in a league that revolves around high-level point guards, it wouldn't be surprising to see him sneak into the bottom of the first round. His size, sturdy frame and versatility peg him as a solid long-term backup at the position, depending on the system. But no matter where he lands, after adjusting to the level of play, Wolters has a chance to be a key rotation player.