Point guard Nate Wolters finds himself in useful role with Bucks

MILWAUKEE — For a short period of time, Nate Wolters had no idea what team he was headed to. In a 10-minute stretch, Wolters’ draft rights were held by three different teams.

Originally drafted by the Washington Wizards with the 38th overall pick, Wolters was traded to Philadelphia, then traded by the 76ers to the Milwaukee Bucks.

“It was just a relief getting drafted,” Wolters said. “At the time I thought I was going to Philadelphia, but five or 10 minutes later I found out I was going to Milwaukee, and I was really happy about it. I met with them at the combine and worked out with them and thought it would be a good fit.”

Wolters is jumping into a situation where there could be playing time to be had right away. The Bucks have yet to make a splash in free agency and point guard Ish Smith is the only guard under contract.

At the point guard position, Brandon Jennings is a restricted free-agent. Even if Jennings returns to Milwaukee, the Bucks will be in need of a backup point guard.

“We’re really excited to have Nate, to have a big guard,” Bucks general manager John Hammond said. “He’s a 6-foot-5 point guard. He scored at South Dakota State because his team needed him to do that, but he has a great feel for the game and a great knowledge of how to play the game.”

The Bucks had to sell Wolters and his agent on their interest just to get the former South Dakota State star to come to Milwaukee for a workout. Wolters realized he wasn’t going to be Milwaukee’s pick at No. 15 of the first round, and he expected to go before the Bucks picked in the second round, which ended up being true.

Sensing there was a real chance the Bucks could move up to grab him in the second round, Wolters decided to come for the workout and is glad he did.

“I knew they needed a point guard, they said that on my visit,” Wolters said. “They seemed really interested. When I found out I was going there, I was really happy about it.

“I thought it was a good workout. It was a lot of fun. I did 13 (workouts), so it was a grind but it was a really good experience. I really enjoyed (the one with the Bucks).”

A third-team All-American last season by the Associated Press, Wolters averaged 22.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game in his senior season with the Jackrabbits. With 3-point range, Wolters shot 37.1 percent from beyond the arc last season, with many of his made 3-pointers coming from NBA distance.

While an opportunity to step in and play right away is Wolters’ biggest draw to the Bucks, he’s also happy to be close to his hometown of St. Cloud, Minn.

“I didn’t really care where I went, but staying in the midwest and staying close to home is obviously a plus,” Wolters said. “My family can come and watch games. It’s a nice city, I’ve only been here a couple of times, but it’s very similar to what I’m used to. I think it will be a pretty easy transition.

“I’m going to come in and compete every day to try to get better. Whatever the coach asks, I’m going to do. I’m going to continue to work hard. That will put me in a good position, I think.”

Wolters will play for Milwaukee’s summer league team, something he’s looking forward to since he hasn’t played five-on-five basketball since South Dakota State lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

“It will be nice to play with a couple of guys just to get used to the speed of the NBA,” Wolters said of summer league. “It will be nice to play five-on-five, just because I haven’t done that in forever. It will be nice to play some games. It’s been a lot of one-on-one, three-on-three. I’m definitely looking forward to playing games again.

“I still have a lot of work to do. I have to continue to work hard, but to just get drafted, especially to this organization, is a dream come true and something four to five years ago I didn’t think was a possibility. Now I’m here and it’s pretty thrilling.”

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