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Yuta Watanabe Has Been a Phenomenal Add for the Nets

Yuta Wantanabe

Yuta Wantanabe
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Yuta Watanabe has become one of the best bench players in basketall

Yuta Watanabe is playing out of his mind right now. No, he probably won’t win the Sixth Man of the Year award this season, but the Japanese forward has quickly established himself as a key contributor for the Brooklyn Nets. You could even say he has become one of the most valuable players off the bench in the whole league. The 6-foot-9 forward is shooting an outrageous 52% from distance on three attempts per game, but that’s only scratching the surface.

In 19 minutes a game, he is putting up a career high eight points. He is so good everywhere on the court and his teammates love him. His play on both ends is quietly a huge reason why the Nets went 12-1 in the month of December.

Reigning Coach of the Month Jacque Vaughn also sees the huge impact Watanabe brings to his team.

“He’s doing a little bit [of] everything,” Vaughn said of Watanabe. “You see the ability for guys to get the ball to him and him shoot the basketball, which we have total confidence in it. And now he’s getting his hands on balls, whether that’s being in the paint and plugging the paint, coming back and tipping balls.

“Being around the basketball and being in a good position, great drive to the rim, which was aggressive. So he’s grown as a basketball player. He’s getting more comfortable knowing when he’s going to get into the game and who he’s going to play with, so I think that’s helped him as well.”

Jacque Vaughn via Brian Lewis, New York Post

Is This For Real?

The red-hot play of Watanabe is also a telling euphemism of the Nets as a whole. Since replacing Steve Nash with Vaughn, they have been as good as about anyone in the NBA.

However, we’ve also seen the lowlights compared to these highlights. It’s hard to determine whether this version of the Nets is what we’ll see for good or not. Obviously, if it is, they are looking a lot like a 55 to even 60-win team. Still, I think pumping the brakes is also a very normal response. I still am cautiously optimistic given all of the turmoil we’ve seen in Brooklyn ever since Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joined forces.

I’s hard not to feel good for Watanabe in particular. The former George Washington player seems to have really found a role in Brooklyn. He has been a journeyman in the past, bouncing around in Memphis and Toronto. He was also the victim of one of the most vicious posters in recent history, as seen below:

It has not been easy for Watanabe, but I am sure this success is well worth the wait for him. I will also be the first to say that the Nets need him down the stretch. If you can get the best out of Ben Simmons and consistency from Joe Harris, Brooklyn could really be here to stay. Having those three in peak form alongside Irving and Durant will strike fear in the entire Eastern Conference.

But again, you can’t think ahead too far in Brooklyn. They did that with James Harden, and it resulted in one playoff series win. So, for the Nets, and Watanabe, take it one day at a time. Most importantly, enjoy the ride. You never know when it’s going to end.

In conclusion, Yuta Watanabe is a baller. He is going to get invited to the three-point contest this year. Believe it or not, he could become the most important Net not named Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving. He deserves everything he’s gotten so far.

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