Nate Wolters: Voss Up or Ish Don’t Think So?

First of all, if you don’t get the reference in the heading, then watch three of the greatest minutes in comedy history.

You’re welcome.

And much like Paul Wilmot in the video above, Dell Demps has to decide very soon whether Nate Wolters is ‘vuss up’ or ‘Ish don’t think so.’ According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Pelicans can only sign Wolters to a ten-day contract twice in the course of the season. After that, the only way he can play for them again this year is if they give him a contract for the remainder of the season. Financially, it is not really an issue for the team, as Wolters would gladly accept a minimum contract, but the question is whether the Pelicans would be better served finding another point guard to fill the backup duties for the remainder of the season.

If you have read my articles or listened to the podcast, you know how I like to think of these situations. I don’t think of Wolters being on the team, and going with someone else being an act of letting Wolters go, then replacing him. Instead, I like to imagine all options are floating out there with the Pelicans not tied to one any more than another. From there, I try to examine all the factors including skill set, fit, and costs (including future costs and opportunity costs) before arriving at the answer. With that perspective in mind, lets take a look at the Pelicans possible options.

The Free Agents

Nate Wolters

After a surprisingly effective rookie season, Wolters struggled a bit in Milwaukee and he hasn’t exactly been impressive in his stint in New Orleans. We only have 7 games (and 94 minutes) of data to judge Wolters on with the Pelicans, but Wolters is not hitting his shots (35%), isn’t getting to the FT line (9% FT rate), and has an assist to turnover ratio that is less than 1:1. Basically, he has been a huge negative on the offensive end statistically and the eye test does not tell you that he is a plus defender. What he does have going for him is the fact that he is more familiar with the system and the players than anybody on this list. He also is young, talented, and cheap. There is a chance for improvement and a small possibility that he can be a long-term solution at backup point guard if he can get to his rookie level of play.

Jordan Farmar

If you could guarantee Pre-Clippers Jordan Farmar, he would probably be the best fit on this list. Farmar is a guy who can score at the rim and knock down the jumper out past the three-point line. He isn’t necessarily a good defender, but he is a smart team defender who could pick up a system quickly. Farmar, like many role players wight he Clippers of late, was underutilized and grew frustrated in LA. In their infinite wisdom, the Clipper released Farmar to make room for Austin Rivers. We already crushed it in that trade by getting Q-Pon for one of the worst players in the league. Imagine if we effectively got Farmar too.

Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson was traded to Boston for Jameer Nelson, another guy Dell was likely considering, and the Celtics subsequently bought out Robinson. He won’t give you defense and he isn’t going to spend a lot of his time setting up teammates, but Robinson can give you energy and buckets in bursts. Robinson was terrible this year, but he was solid prior to getting injured the year before and he was nothing short of fantastic two years ago in Chicago. and in Golden State the year before that. There are a lot of solid rotation players on list, but Robinson is quite possibly the only one who can completely change a game.

Trade Targets

CJ Watson, Indiana Pacers

George Hill has recently returned for Indiana, and depending on what their goals are for the rest of this year, they could look to move Watson – who is in the final year of his contract. Watson is an above average three-point shooter who protects the ball and plays solid defense. He is a seasoned veteran without too many miles on his tires and he is a guy that is fine being a rotation player, and is not looking to be more than that. For all these targets, let’s assume a trade package that includes Salmons, Withey, and a 2nd rounder.

Mo Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves are gunning for a top-three pick at this point and Williams is not a part of their long-ten plans – so why not get something for him? Just two weeks ago, Williams exploded for 52 points against Indiana, and while that is not exactly what the Pelicans need, the threat of a backup guard who teams have to respect will open up the offense for everybody. Williams is also a smart, seasoned vet with 49 games of playoff experience and could be the type of piece that is the difference between being the 8th seed or the 9th seed in the West.

Ramon Sessions, Sacramento Kings

Sessions is another guy who is really struggling with his new team after playing well in previous stops. He is not a good three-point shooter, but he excels in one area that the Pelicans desperately need – getting to the free throw line. Over his career, Sessions gets to the free throw line more than Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday combined (per 36 minutes). A point guard who can come in and get the team into the bonus early for Davis and Anderson to take advantage of late in quarters could be invaluable.

Norris Cole, Miami Heat

Recent reports said that the Bobcats were looking into acquiring Sessions or Cole, so let’s imagine Dell gets into the mix. Cole has looked like a future star in spurts, but he has really struggled this year with Lebron gone. He is an intense defender who can get hot from the perimeter, though he is more of a mid-range guy than a three-point shooter. He is playoff tested and is still young enough to have some upside if the Pelicans want to put the time in to develop him.

Luke Ridnour, Orlando Magic

Ridnour is just a smart, craft vet and you know how Monty loves those! He has had some great three-point shooting seasons (including this year) and some terrible one’s, so you never know what you are going to get there. He can run an offense and won’t turn the ball over, though he does foul quite a bit. Not the highest upside on this list, but he probably has the highest floor. He simply isn’t going to hurt you and that is a big upgrade over what this team has had at the 4th guard position so far this season.

The Incumbent

Jimmer Fredette

Jimmer is on the roster, and the team could choose to let Wolters go and re-insert Fredette. If he was the three-point shooter that he has been over the rest of his career, that would be a solid option, but he just can’t hit this year. And the truth is that the coaching staff doesn’t seem to have much faith in him at this point. They couldn’t wait to give his minutes to Gal Mekel and Nate Wolters, just days after they were signed, and even last night, Monty put Salmons in the game before Jimmer. On the plus side, Jimmer knows the system better than everybody on this least and is loved by his teammates. If he could only hit that jumper….


Monty has given Wolters every chance so far to take this job and run with it, but he hasn’t done anything to keep Dell from looking for other options. There are some solid free agents on the market and a few more who can probably be had for cheap in trades. In this humble writers opinion, Dell should be working the phones to see if he can land Mo Williams or CJ Watson. From there, he should look into Farmar, and then move on to Ridnour or Sessions if he can’t get any of the other three. If none of those options work out, then you sign Wolters for the rest of the year, with a 2nd year unguaranteed and hope for the best.

What are your thoughts? Vuss Up or Ish Don’t Think So to Wolters? And who is your Double Vuss Up?

18 responses to “Nate Wolters: Voss Up or Ish Don’t Think So?”

  1. I hope Dell decides to move on from Wolters. His skill set is the opposite of what the Pelicans need from the backup PG position. I’d go with in order…Mo, CJ, Cole, Sessions and then Farmar.

  2. It seems to me that Dell is trying to trade Salmons, Fredette and maybe Withey for an upgrade in a position of need (backup PG, 4th big, etc.). Obviously Wolters will not take us to the promised land. Does he make Fredette expendable if a trade becomes possible? Yes.

  3. I like the trade targets. Mo Williams, Cj and Cole would all be dramatic upgrades.  And I would be happy sending out any players at the end of the bench. However, I really think we need to slow down of the pick dumping. Especially for rentals.  Of the three, I would guess Mo would be the most available because I do think Minnie wants to lose. But I cant see up putting together anything they would be interested in taking back.  Maybe L Babbitt might have some marginal appeal as a project.  I think Ajinca would be appealing to some teams also, but really like him also.  And if you trade him, then you have a big hole at back-up center. I dont see a trade happening. But thats why Dell gets pain the big bucks.
    So on the free agents, I cant see Monte going for Nate. He’s just not Monte’s kind of player.  So it would come down to Farmar vs Wolters. It seems like Farmar might be the better option if doesnt cost anything beyond this year.

  4. Wolters not terrible but I don’t see him sticking for any reason other than being another body who happens to be a guard.  With Evans playing PG so well, in looking at the roster it would seem the extra player we need is a SG to back up Gordon…his aversion to playing Fredette, along with Evans’ proven versatility and the departure of Rivers, is why Monty prefers to rotate his primary three G’s when they are all available:
    PG: Holiday, Evans, Fredette
    SG: Gordon, Fredette
    I do like Jimmer but it appears that is not going to happen…amazing the versatility of Tyreke though…

  5. Those are the only trade pieces that the Pelicans have.
    Can that get anyone?
    Salmons maybe? 2 million expiring deal.
    Jimmer and Withey.

  6. Jimmer started slow but regardless of him not shooting that efficiently YET, he is getting to the basket, scoring from mid range, AND the ft line, he is a scorer, not just a shooter, and he was playing well until monty decided to play nate wolters for some odd reason, nate is not proving hes better than jimmer at all, jimmer was doing fine scoring without needing to shoot, all he needs to do is get in a rhythim and he’ll be the jimmer everyone expects him to be, don’t forget, he barely has had chances to get his shot up, its not like hes shooting ryan anderson numbers (5+ 3s a game), jimmer barely shots one or 2, or any at all, not his fault, he doesn’t get the chance, there are many me first scorers on this team, O, and don’t forget he was also playing excellent as a PG, finding his teammates, unlike any other in the team, i don’t get why stop the rhythim he was in, he was gaining his confidence back every game, remember, by now jimmers confidence must be in a cage, monty doesn’t have a problem with basically telling jimmer hes not worth anything compared to the others.

  7. xman20002000 his talent isn’t shooting, yes hes a great shooter, but his talent is scoring, in many different ways, he had been scoring well in the last games he got minutes, without needing to shoot, jimmer is not really allowed to shoot many 3s a game, people say hes not making his 3s, well what they don’t realise is that hes barely allowed to take 3s, he only averages about 1 3 a game, perhaps less, is not like the coach runs a play for him and encourages everyone to find jimmer, hes a rhythim shooter, he needs to get in rhythim to be efficient, monty sees jimmer miss one and benches him, if you call that a fair shot, welll i do’t know whats wrong with you, nate wolters is shooting horrible, you don’t see him getting benched, monty just doesn’t know how to use jimmer.

  8. How realistic are the trade targets with Salmons, Withey, and the 2nd as bait. Seems like CJ, Cole, Mo Williams would be no brainers if it were truly enough.
    Assuming that the trade options all come with a probability of say less than 30 to 40 percent. Id say Farmar is a no brainer.

  9. Stupid. Over the 8-9 games that Jimmer has gotten a chance (I’m counting from Dec. 30th to Jan. 19th), he posted great numbers. He had more points per 36 minutes than any other guard on the roster, and currently has the 2nd best assist/TO ratio on the team (Holiday is first). Most importantly, the team has been +39 with him on the court in those games! That means that the 2nd unit has gone from being a joke to beating the other teams more often than not.
    It’s not rocket science. Why does Monty seem so intent on sitting him?
    Wolters hasn’t been bad, but he also hasn’t been good. I just don’t understand the constant need to find someone, ANYONE, other than Jimmer.

  10. xman20002000 2nd best assist/TO ratio on the team, more points per 36 than any other guard on the team over the past month or so (when he’s finally been given real minutes), HUGE +/- numbers, etc. If you’ve been watching the games, you know that he was clearly proving to be a better backup than Rivers, and that Wolters hasn’t been nearly as good, yet for some reason Jimmer is the one that Monty just refuses to stick with. I don’t get it.

  11. Pelican Poster Yeah, good for Tyreke finally passing the ball – he looks like that ROY PG of old. He’ll be a match-up nightmare if he keeps playing the way he has been.

  12. xman20002000 until he gets a complete chance that is, until one coach goes along and trusts him enough to tell him “go take more shots your talent is scoring”, hes had great scoring games many times when hes allowed to be the scorer, not only by his coach, but by his teammates, who often ignore him, jimmer will continue to be that guy who the coaches just don’t realize is better than they make him out to be, and continues to sit because of their low IQ, whenever jimmer is allowed to play games in a row, he performs, but thats never the case, he has a great performance, doesn’t matter, to the bench.

  13. All I gotta say is Mo -MutherF***in Williams Please. Thank you very much. We all agree we need basketball IQ players and clearly he is the leader of the pack… Hands down no one knows the shot clock better and is conscious of his teammates and late quarter foul situations… Let’s get him Dell

  14. It wasn’t by coincidence that Dell found Jimmer on the scrap pile. He has had an opportunity to prove he could be a solid rotation player. It just hasn’t happened

  15. xman20002000 Honestly, I’d like to know, but we haven’t seen enough of him to make that call. I know that even though he’s been struggling in his limited attempts this year, he’s just under a 40% career 3 point shooter, which is elite. I know that even though he doesn’t attack as much (not necessarily a bad thing), he takes care of the ball better than Gordon or Evans. When he’s aggressive, he looks like a great player, but so many times he’s sent to the corner to wait for the other guys to pass the ball (which they don’t).
    His defense, while not great, is scrutinized more than anyone’s in the league. Even though he gets isolated on more often than anyone I’ve seen, and he’s been playing for some pretty awful defensive teams, his numbers are just slightly below average.
    Overall, he’s definitely proven to be a much better option than Rivers, and he only had 4-5 games before getting replaced by Wolters for whatever reason. I’d like to see him as the actual back-up PG (not SG) for a month or two and see if he can get into his groove. So far, when given real minutes, the 2nd unit has looked a lot better with him running point than any other option they’ve tried, so why not stick with him?

  16. PelicanSaints Jimmer has been playing out of position most of the year. Over the last month when he’s been given a shot, he’s looked much better than any other back-up PG on the team, but Monty still looks for every reason not to play him. His numbers aren’t eye-popping, but they’re not horrible either, and they’re definitely better than Rivers’ and Wolters’ per-36 numbers. That’s despite those two getting more consistent minutes during their try-outs AND playing more PG, while Jimmer still gets split between PG and SG.
    The most important number to me is that with Jimmer on the court, the Pelicans have been +41. That’s +4.6 points per 36 minutes – the highest per 36 plus-minus on the team. For comparison’s sake, AD is +4.3, Rivers is -2.2 and Wolters is -5.6.
    With Jimmer in the rotation, the back-up unit has gone from a joke to being really tough. It’s not because he’s dominating by any means, but because the 2nd unit is playing as a team now that Rivers doesn’t have the ball in his hands the whole time. Jimmer’s not flashy, and his shot has been off, but he still makes the right basketball plays rather than using the same, easy to guard, isolate and dominate mentality as the rest of the guards (excluding Wolters and Holiday). Give him a little more consistency and his shot will start falling too, which would make the 2nd unit even better.

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