The Toronto Raptors are a small market and do not necessarily have the privilege of signing stars.
Kawhi Leonard is the prime example of this with the Raptors trading for him with only one year left on his deal. Despite him signing with the Los Angeles Clippers the following offseason, Toronto cashed in on a championship.
Due to this, Toronto has to rely on their development system. Yuta Watanabe went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Memphis Grizzlies would give him his first chance in the league.
Watanabe spent two years in Memphis and then signed with the Raptors, where he spent two seasons. He quickly earned himself the reputation of a high percentage shooter, shooting 40 percent for Toronto in the 2020-21 season.
He appeared on The Raptors Show, where he revealed that he actually wanted to stay with team:
“I wanted to stay with the Raptors. I told my agent if the NBA wasn’t going to work, then I want to go to the 905.”
Watanabe then signed with the Brooklyn Nets and improved to 44 percent from distance, making a name for himself as an NBA player. For a Raptors team that needs perimeter shooting, Yuta’s ability to knock down shots at a high level is needed.
This past offseason Watanabe signed with the Phoenix Suns for a veteran minimum to provide that lethal three-point shooting. His shooting is extremely valuable next to stars like Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker. He’s currently shooting 36 percent from 3 in 18 minutes per contest.
In 88 games with the Raptors, Yuta averaged 4.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.7 assists on 42.5 percent shooting from the field and 37.3 percent from three-point land. Time will tell if Toronto will be able to find another shooter of Yuta’s caliber.
Raptors take on Knicks
After a disappointing loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Toronto is now four games below .500.
The team now heads to New York on Monday to take on the Knicks, who may also be without their starting point guard in Jalen Brunson.
Have you subscribed to the Raptors Nation YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!