Sun. Nov 27th, 2022

Following a 2021-22 season through which the Brooklyn Nets had been in determined want of wings, they determined to take a flier on Yuta Watanabe this offseason.

Watanabe, a 28-year-old from Japan, performed 4 years at George Washington earlier than going undrafted in 2018. The ahead spent two seasons with Memphis bouncing between the G-League and NBA earlier than being picked up by Toronto. He would play 88 video games for the Raptors throughout his final two seasons, flashing his three-and-D potential however failing to crack the rotation.

After the Nets had been manhandled by the Boston Celtics in a first-round sweep throughout final 12 months’s playoffs, dimension and flexibility had been on the prime of the offseason guidelines. Brooklyn’s most vital transfer got here once they traded a first-round decide to the Utah Jazz for Royce O’Neale. Common Supervisor Sean Marks additionally signed recognized bucket-getter T.J. Warren in a transfer that excited many.

Nonetheless, misplaced within the midst of bigger-name acquisitions and Kevin Durant’s commerce saga was Brooklyn’s non-guaranteed minimal settlement with Watanabe. And 16 video games into the season, the ahead has been among the many NBA’s best gamers whereas carving out a precious two-way position with the Nets.

Watanabe, a 35.2 p.c three-point shooter in his first 4 seasons, is main the league in three-point proportion (55.6 p.c) and efficient subject objective proportion (76.7 p.c) this season. For a Nets staff in determined want of a scoring punch with Joe Harris and Seth Curry recovering from ankle surgical procedures, the ahead’s improved three-point stroke has been a revelation.

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However the Japanese prospect’s affect on the sport is way bigger than his outdoors taking pictures. Watanabe’s hustle off the bench has been contagious for a staff in turmoil to begin the season.

The fifth-year ahead is arguably Brooklyn’s most energetic and reliable perimeter defender, ceaselessly holding up in opposition to among the league’s prime scorers on switches. Watanabe’s hustle and physicality rebounding the ball has jumped off the display screen, and he’s additionally typically the primary Web up the ground on the fastbreak.

Yuta Watanabe’s defensive exercise has been unbelievable to begin the season. Again-to-back possessions right here forcing a turnover.

Fights onerous over the display screen and causes Haliburton to journey. Then clamps Mathurin and digs down on Haliburton to drive the turnover.

— Erik Slater (@erikslater_) November 1, 2022

Watanabe’s breakout efficiency got here Thursday in a nailbiting 109-107 win over Portland. The ahead posted a season-best 20 factors, 7 rebounds, and a pair of assists on 5 0f 7 taking pictures from three within the victory. With that, we go to the movie to interrupt down the important thing areas through which the offseason acquisition helped propel the Nets to a key street win.

Well timed three-point taking pictures and playmaking

In a back-and-forth affair that noticed Brooklyn fall behind within the second half, it was Watanabe’s well timed three-point taking pictures that will permit the Nets to claw again and preserve their lead.

Brooklyn trailed by 11 with three minutes left within the third however would put collectively a 14-0 run on Watanabe’s again to finish the body. The ahead’s hustle working the ground right here affords Durant an outlet to begin the run.

Watanabe adopted up the two-made free-throws with a superb drive and kick to Durant for a 3 to chop the deficit to 4. The ahead’s potential to drive and create when run off the three-point line has been a pleasant addition to his sport this season.

He would observe the help up with one other to Durant on the next possession. Joe Harris drives baseline and kicks to an open Watanabe on the prime of the important thing. Relatively than drive the shot, he shortly will get the ball to Durant in movement, resulting in an and-one.

This play could not appear like a lot, nevertheless it highlights what makes Watanabe such an efficient complementary piece. The primary-year Web is a high-IQ participant that performs inside himself, not often making an attempt to do an excessive amount of. That understanding of his position has allowed him to thrive inside the move of Brooklyn’s offense.

After a collection of stops, Watanabe would beat Portland down the ground once more off a steal to earn one other journey to the road.

With the sport tied within the ultimate seconds of the quarter, the ball would make its approach to Watanabe within the nook, the place has been deadly this season (14 of 19 on nook threes). The 28-year-old continued his sizzling nook taking pictures, draining the three to ship the Nets into the ultimate body with a lead.

Watanabe scored or assisted on 12-straight Brooklyn factors because the 14-0 run gave Brooklyn the result in shut the third.

Clutch three-and-D fourth quarter

Watanabe would proceed his stellar two-way play all through the fourth quarter, flattening three triples within the body. The primary pulled Brooklyn inside attain and the final two got here within the ultimate 5 minutes to keep up the lead.

Watanabe’s high-level perimeter protection was on full show as he caught with Damian Lillard down the stretch. On two stops within the ultimate two minutes, the previous Atlantic-10 Defensive Participant of the 12 months is ready to use his size and fast response time to problem Lillard’s shot with out committing to the air or fouling.


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Discover how Watanabe kicks his toes again on the second contest to make sure he offers Lillard room to land, avoiding a foul. These high-IQ and technically-sound defensive possessions have turn out to be typical within the ahead’s sport to date with Brooklyn.


Portland felt Watanabe’s hustle on the boards your complete sport Thursday. The 28-year-old’s exercise off the bench, significantly on the offensive glass, has been a catalyst for a number of of the Nets’ runs this season.

Watanabe goes excessive of Jusuf Nurkic for an offensive board right here that results in a bucket earlier than outworking three Path Blazers defenders to increase a possession in a while.

Watanabe’s presence on the defensive glass was additionally a key issue in opposition to Nurkic and the Blazers. Right here he skies for a defensive board and attracts a foul to complete a cease and put Brooklyn within the bonus with 3:30 remaining.

These hustle performs have frequently given Brooklyn life in video games with Ben Simmons struggling and Kyrie Irving suspended.

It isn’t a stretch to say Watanabe needs to be within the beginning lineup dialog given his high-level two-way play. The frontline of Simmons, Watanabe and Durant overwhelmed Portland defensively down the stretch and may very well be a mainstay in Brooklyn’s rotation transferring ahead.

Whereas the first-year Web’s three-point taking pictures is due for a regression, Watanabe’s hustle and high-IQ play in practically each aspect of the sport ought to proceed to earn him an expanded position. The Nets had been in want of great reinforcements following a first-round sweep and Durant’s commerce request this summer season.

Simply 16 video games into the season, they seem to have discovered a steal in Watanabe.

By Admin

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