Get to know: Yuta Watanabe has the ability to be electric

We continue our series where we get to know the newest members of the Phoenix Suns as seen through the eyes of people who have covered them. It’s always nice to get some insight from the fanatic, someone who sees these players day in and day out and understands the intricacies of their game.



Any casual watcher of YouTube clips can tell you that newly acquired Yuta Watanabe is a sharpshooting left-hander who is lethal from the arc. But what YouTube typically doesn’t show you are the moments he misses. The times when he has the opportunity to put the ball on the floor and attack the cylinder, but prefers to pass out. It doesn’t show the failures, only the successes.

Watanabe was a highly valued fringe acquisition for Phoenix, but what do we know beyond our recent interest in him? I caught up with Tom Lorenzo, editor of the SB Nation website Nets dailyand asked him some questions about Yuta and what it’s like to consume his basketball every day.


John Win: What’s the one thing we need to know about Yuta?

Tom Lorenzo: I can’t promise it’s what you’re looking for, but Yuta Watanabe really is one of the most likable and easy to root for players in the league. Just check out his farewell tweet Brooklyn Nets fans after just one season with the team; and scroll through the “goodbye” messages from Nets fans — it’s also easy to imagine this move wouldn’t have happened without Kevin Durant’s blessing (or information), so I’ll say that while you don’t get a future All -Star you’re bound to find someone you’ll find incredibly easy to root for.

JV: Does he have the ability to attack off the dribble or is he purely a spot up shooter?

TL: He’s very athletic for his size, which gives someone like him — who’s nearly 6-10 and a very effective 3-point shooter — the ability to become a threat off the dribble. Either you get caught switching and he gets to use his body against a smaller guard, or he gets shut out by a big man only to let him use his quickness and athleticism to take his defender off the dribble.

JV: What is your favorite story about him during his time in Brooklyn?

TL: I think the fact that about a month into the season he was leading the league in 3-point shooting at 57% (!!!) from beyond the arc; he was coming off a game against Portland in mid-November where he shot 5-of-7 from three and then followed that up with a 4-of-6 performance against the Grizzlies a few nights later.

Then he missed some time after that game against Memphis and ultimately saw his percentage drop to a (respectable) 44% by season’s end, but those few games were absolutely electric especially at a time when the whole Kyrie Irving saga was playing itself out and Nets fans were really looking for something to cheer about.

JV: How durable of a player is he?

TL: He’s certainly had injuries throughout his young career, and missed some time last year as I mentioned in the middle of his hot streak, but you love to see him coming off a season where he played a career-best 58 games and had an average. a career-high 16 minutes per It may seem like those aren’t staggering numbers for someone who could be considered “durable,” but you also have to remember that he hasn’t always had to be ready for NBA games as a role player, so a certain optimism that maybe this offseason he is. working more on the things that will keep him on the field for longer periods of time – maybe?

JV: Do you think he could be a starter with Phoenix?

TL: Of course I think he could be. Again, I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’ll be an All-Star one day, but I think he could put up starting minutes for a team like the Suns that probably needs him to do the two things he is best at. to do – space the floor and defend.

JV: Is he a “glad he’s gone” or “wish he stayed” kind of guy?

TL: Wish he stayed, for sure. While there is a “glad he’s gone” element, it’s probably in that he should be playing for a title-contending team (like the Suns) and not a rebuilding team (like the Nets). He serves a better purpose for a team that wants to win now.

JV: Any final thoughts?

TL: Enjoy him, he’s really awesome and like I said easy to root for. Also fun fact, his wife is a famous actress in Japan. She actually has more social media followers than he does – you know, if you’re looking for a “fun fact”, something to talk about.


Yuta the Shoota. He will certainly be a valued addition to the team and will bring bench depth and flexibility to Frank Vogel next season. Could he start sometimes? Quite possible. But he certainly gives us a lot to be excited about.

Thanks to Tom Lorenzo for providing this insight. And now let’s look at some of the YouTube clips that show his successes.

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