BROOKLYN – The Brooklyn Nets have signed free agent forward Yuta Watanabe. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.
Watanabe (6’8”, 214) has appeared in 121 games (eight starts) across four seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies (2018-20) and Toronto Raptors (2020-22), recording averages of 3.8 points on 40.9 percent shooting from the field, 35.2 percent shooting from 3-point range and 66.7 percent shooting from the free-throw line and 2.5 rebounds in 12.0 minutes per game. Most recently, the 27-year-old saw action in 38 games (four starts) with the Raptors during the 2021-22 season, posting averages of 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per contest. In addition to his NBA experience, Watanabe has also played in 56 NBA G League games (55 starts) split between the Memphis Hustle and Raptors 905, averaging 15.5 points on 47.8 percent shooting from the field, 34.8 percent shooting from distance and 82.7 percent shooting from the free-throw line, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in 33.5 minutes per game. The native of Kagawa, Japan, has competed on the international stage for his home country, including in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, where he led Japan in scoring.
Watanabe went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft and then played in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League with the Nets. Prior to beginning his professional career, Watanabe spent four years (2014-18) at George Washington University, becoming the first Japanese-born student athlete to earn a NCAA Division I basketball scholarship. As a senior, Watanabe garnered Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year honors and was named to the All-Atlantic 10 Third Team.