Before Anthony Edwards put him on a poster a few weeks ago, a big majority of NBA fans probably never heard of Yuta Watanabe, a member of the Toronto Raptors. That spectacular dunk was featured all over the internet, and it's really one if not the best dunks we've seen all season long. Edwards was trending for a few days, but so was Watanabe.
Until now, there wasn't a chance to get some statement from him regarding that specific play, but in a short interview for a Japanese news portal, Watanabe said he doesn't mind getting dunked on, even if he ends up getting ridiculed by some people. He thinks players should use every opportunity to stop the opposing team from scoring points, no matter what the outcome would be.
When you're dunked like that, you get laughed at and become famous in a bad way. But for me, I have no choice but to try to block it. I'd rather get dunked on than give up an easy two points by missing it.
Watanabe's mindset is simple. He'll try to block any shot even if he gets dunked on the majority of times because that is the essential part of the game. Sometimes you block someone, and sometimes you get dunked on.
Even if I get dunked 99 times out of 100, I'll always jump if there's a chance I can block one."
Watanabe is one of those players that had to go through a lot of adversity to make it to the NBA and is on limited playing time with the Raptors. That, however, is not stopping him from trying to make an impact in any way he can. He believes if he loses that mindset, he no longer deserves playing time on the team.
But I think, if I do so, I shouldn't be here anymore, and I shouldn't get any playing time. The only thing I'm regretting about that is giving up 3 points, so I don't mind that he dunked on me. If I'm in the same situation in the future, I'll jump to block every time.
This season, Watanabe is playing 12 minutes per game, averaging modest 2.7 points and 3 rebounds. He is known for his competitiveness on defense and willingness to put the team first. He seems like a very modest guy looking to find his spot in the league and remain there as long as possible, and hopefully, with this type of mindset and mentality, the Raptors will keep him on their roster.