Yuta Watanabe
#18 Yuta Watanabe of the Brooklyn Nets. Key-Bin-It-Real/Twitter


  • The Phoenix Suns netted Yuta Watanabe on a two-year, $5 million deal
  • Watanabe chose the Suns due to his fit in the team and his experience with Kevin Durant
  • A big season lies ahead of both Watanabe and the Suns

Sharpshooting wing player Yuta Watanabe was one of the most sought-after players in the free agent market this season and the forward recently broke his silence on why he chose to sign with the Phoenix Suns despite having other options on the table.

In an interview with Hochi News, Watanabe had the following to say.

"There were nuances about 'I want you to come to our organization' from about 10 teams. I was really surprised. There were teams that paid more than the Suns, but it's important to play where you want to play. The people with the Suns came all the way to Los Angeles, where I was at the time, to talk to me," he was quoted to have said in his native tongue.

"I'm honestly filled with joy. Thankfully, I was approached by many teams, and among them, the Suns had a lot of passion. I personally had [connections with] KD (Kevin Durant). I made a decision. It didn't take long and the Suns were one of the teams I wanted to go to."

It was reported last week that the Suns were able to pluck Watanabe from the grips of the other franchises interested in him with a two-year, $5 million deal which includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.

Regarded as one of the next best up-and-coming shooters in the NBA today, Watanabe hit career-highs in points (5.6), field goal percentage (49.1), three-point percentage (44.4) and assists (0.8) last season with the Brooklyn Nets–with him also leading the league in three-point percentage.

Watanabe burst onto the consciousness of fans back in the 2020-21 NBA season when he was on the receiving end of a vicious poster slam from Anthony Edwards, but he would soon erase those images thanks to his hot hands.

The left-handed forward from Kagawa Prefecture, Japan is the type of player that most fans want to see on their side of the floor since his consistent shooting touch makes him a terror from beyond the arc while his sneaky athleticism allows him to drive into the paint and rack up points with floaters.

Not only is he a menace on the offense, but he can very much be pest on defense with his footwork being a major problem for even the shiftiest wings in the league.

Now with the Suns, fans can expect Watanabe to keep that same role under the guidance of new head coach Frank Vogel and should have a breakout year as he again shares the court with Kevin Durant while also being on the receiving end of bullet passes from Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

The Suns have had their eyes set on rounding out the depth chart with shooters on minimum deals and it can be safe to assume that Watanabe might be in the running for the Most Improved Player award when the regular season comes to a close—plus a potential NBA Championship to his resume.

Yuta Watanabe`
#18 Yuta Watanabe of the Brooklyn Nets Legion Hoops/Twitter