Basketball

Yuta Watanabe making solid impact for NBA G League's Memphis Hustle

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Yuta Watanabe has demonstrated in the early days of his pro basketball career that he has the all-around skill set to be a quality contributor.

Those he’s only played two games so far for the Memphis Grizzlies, the rookie forward out of George Washington University has made a big impact for the Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate.

Watanabe, whose two-way contract permits him to play in both the NBA and NBA G League, has appeared in 12 of the Memphis Hustle’s 15 games. The team is 9-6 through Monday. Watanabe was sidelined on Monday.

The Kagawa Prefecture native is averaging 12.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals for the Hustle. He’s shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range and 90.3 percent from the free-throw line.

The Hustle return to action on Friday against the host Oklahoma City Blue at Cox Convention Center.

Last week, Watanabe experienced the physical demands of the pro game and the risks that are always there. After scoring 11 first-half points against the Iowa Wolves on Friday, the DeSoto (Mississippi) Times-Tribune reported that he had to leave the game due to an injury.

According to the newspaper, Hustle coach Brad Jones said that Watanabe “collided heads with the Iowa player and he didn’t return to action, adding after the game Watanabe was being placed on concussion protocol.”