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Yuta Watanabe: “My goal wasn’t to get drafted. My goal was to make a NBA roster.”

Imagine being a great basketball player who has dreams of making it to the NBA. You are good enough to play basketball in college. Not only do you play in college but you excel and standout among the best. As a senior you average 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. After your senior year, playing in the NBA seems like a real possibility.

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Going through the draft process the scouts and “draft experts” are saying that at best you are a second round pick but most likely you will go undrafted. They have written reports saying you that your age is a bad thing because you are not 19 like a lot of the first round picks. They have questions about your jump shot, your lateral movement, and your ability to improve going forward because of your age.

In your heart you know that you are good enough to play in the NBA but on draft night your name is not called. This has to be a shot to the gut. Questions start to go through your head, am I good enough? Were the scouts right about all of the weaknesses they saw? Should I use my degree and go get a “real job”? Should I try to go play overseas?

How would you beat the odds?

After asking yourself all of these questions. You get the call that a team wants you to play for their summer league team. You play well enough that an NBA team wants to sign you. So now you have an oppourtunity but you are still fighting an uphill battle to make the roster.

Yuta Watanabe has a story that is similar to this . So how did Watanabe go from being undrafted to a NBA veteran?

Watanabe is now entering into his first season with the Phoenix Suns and his sixth season in the NBA. He fought his way on to NBA rosters by dominating in the G League. Then last season really showed what he is capable of by having his best year for the Brooklyn Nets. He shot 49% from the field and 44% from the three point line.

This summer Watanabe played in the FIBA World Cup for Japan. Where he had three separate games scoring 20 points or more. This may have shown the Phoenix Suns what Watanabe is truly capable of. The role he plays with the Suns will be very important. He needs to be a floor spacer and good defender. A “3 and D” player with the ability to score in different ways.

The Yuta Watanabe basketball story is still being written. The Phoenix Suns chapter may be the best one yet.

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