The Toronto Raptors sign fan favorite Yuta Watanabe to a standard NBA contract. Watanabe has been making his own path in the NBA. After playing at George Washington for four seasons he entered the NBA in 2018. Those first two seasons were spent with the Memphis Grizzlies as a two-way player. In college, Watanabe was the Atlantic-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
This season, the 6-foot-9 forward from Japan has averaged 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in just 13.4 minutes per game. Blake Murphy of The Athletic Toronto broke down the deal.
YUTA’s deal covers this year AND next year, per a source. (Not sure on guarantee for 2021-22 but it’s light if any.)
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) April 19, 2021
The contract will allow Watanabe to make $232,677 more in the remainder of this season than he would have made on a two-way contract. Recently, he was able to post a 21-point career-high against the Orlando Magic. The Raptors see promise in the young player and believe he may have a future with the franchise moving forward. He is an interesting and intriguing player that could be developed into a modern NBA forward.
He has control on the defensive side, which was obvious coming out of college, but his shooting has been really good this season in his limited time. Yuta has made 44.8% of his field goals and 40% of his threes. The future should be bright for Yuta and Toronto is an organization that takes the time to invest in players.
Currently, the Raptors sit in 10th in the East and are tied with the Bulls and Wizards. Depending on how the rest of the season shakes up for these teams, Toronto might not make the play-in tournament for the Playoffs. The Pacers in 9th sit three games ahead of the three previously mentioned teams while the top-3 seeds make themselves a class all their own.