Basketball

Yuta Watanabe sees major minutes in first two NBA G League games

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Yuta Watanabe logged 31 and 32 minutes in the first two games of the Memphis Hustle’s NBA G League season.

The former George Washington University player started at small forward in Memphis’ season opener on Saturday against the host Rio Grande Valley Vipers in Edinburg, Texas. Despite shooting 2 of 11 from the floor and scoring four points, it was a productive all-around effort for Watanabe. He added five rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks in a 119-103 loss.

On Monday, the Kagawa Prefecture native was inserted into the starting lineup at power forward against the Sioux Falls Skyforce in South Dakota. Watanabe, a 206-cm player, finished with seven points (3 of 11 shooting), 10 boards, two assists, a steal and a block in a 126-125 defeat.

The 2017-18 Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year made his NBA regular-season debut on Oct. 27 with the Memphis Grizzlies. His two-way contract will give him opportunities to suit up for both clubs this season.

He’s expected to receive significant playing time with the Hustle early in the season.

The Hustle return to Southaven, Tennessee, a Memphis suburb, for an extended homestand at Landers Center that begins on Friday and runs through Nov. 25, a stretch of six games.