Bucks rookie guard Nate Wolters fractured his hand in Wednesday's game against the Warriors, and it was announced at halftime that he would not return to the game. I'm definitely no hand expert, but most fractures usually take at least a couple weeks to heal, so unfortunately this likely means an end to Wolters' pleasantly surprising rookie season.
The 38th pick in last year's draft had started 30 of the team's 57 games, averaging a modest 7.3 points and 3.3 assists. The raw numbers don't jump off the page, particularly his 48.8% true shooting mark, but Wolters was starting to gain some confidence back in his shot and appeared to be ready to take a step forward with his game. He also took excellent care of the ball all season, racking up 3.3 assists for every turnover. In short: this sucks.
Coming into the season, Wolters was expected to bide his time behind Brandon Knight, Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal, but he was thrust into major minutes on opening night when Knight went down with a hamstring injury just two minutes into the season. He went on to play a major role in the opening weeks of the season while Knight and Ridnour continued to battle injuries, impressing everyone with his feel for the game, care of the ball and underrated defensive abilities.
After spending some time on the bench after Knight's return and the inexplicable increase in Ridnour's minutes, Wolters returned to the starting lineup on January 31st and had been sharing the starting point guard duties with Knight ever since. It's probably not a coincidence that the Bucks started to play much better basketball around that time, a correlation we've seen all season. While the Bucks have been outscored 553 points overall this season, the number shrunk to just -26 in Wolters' 1310 minutes this season.
Feel better, Naters.