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"Steph's a God but Yuta's definitely knocking 'em down right now –Kevin Durant approves of Yuta Watanabe’s hot shooting for the Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant discusses Yuta Watanabe’s impact for the Brooklyn Nets as of late
Yuta Watanabe

Yuta Watanabe

Brooklyn Nets swingman Yuta Watanabe is proving to be the most underrated off-season acquisition of the NBA.

The Japanese international has not only earned minutes in the Nets rotation after departing the Toronto Raptors in the summer but has also ascended into one of the top three-point sharpshooters in the association.

Earning the respect of his teammates

Through his deadeye shooting and steady production for the largely inconsistent Nets, the 28-year-old has earned the respect of teammate and NBA superstar Kevin Durant.

Following the Nets 127-115 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, Watanabe poured in 12 points in the fourth quarter, Durant sang his praises during his postgame interview and even considered taking him over former championship teammate Steph Curry in a three-point contest right now.

"Steph's a God, but Yuta is definitely knocking 'em down right now.

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He's playing great. We love his energy. He's hitting big shots for us, so you always get excited for your teammates, especially guys who come in and don't necessarily have a guaranteed spot on the team but work their way into the rotation and put their imprint on the game from day one.

So I'm excited for him, and at this point, I think we should expect that he'll go out there and play good basketball. I'm not saying he's going to make every shot and shoot 70 percent from the floor for the rest of the year, but he's just playing solid ball on both ends of the floor. But we expect that from him now.

He's shooting the ball extremely well for us, spacing the floor. But he's also driving the ball when he catches it, he's making the right play right now. I think when you make the right play, them shots feel a little better leaving your hand."

Durant's endorsement of Watanabe's performances holds a great deal of weight, especially considering the former MVP called out his teammates just days prior. He was even cracking jokes when talking about who would he choose between Yute or Steph in a three-point shooting contest

The current league leader in three-pointer percentage

To put into context just how light out his shooting has been, Watanabe is now leading the league in both three-point percentages at 57.1%, as well as effective field goal at 76.6%. He is connecting on a staggering 76.2% of his corner three-point attempts and has shot over 50% from beyond the arc in 10 of the 17 games so far this campaign.

After searching for a home this offseason, Watanabe signed a non-guaranteed minimum deal with the Nets in the summer. While he can't reconstruct his contract currently, his deal will become fully guaranteed come 10th January 2023. 

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