Yuta Watanabe scored a career-high 40 points for the NBA G League’s Memphis Hustle on Wednesday.
The second-year pro, a two-way player for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and Hustle, put on a shooting clinic against the Delaware Blue Coats in Southaven, Mississippi.
In 35 impressive minutes, Watanabe, who started at power forward, drained 14 of 20 shots from the field, including 8 of 11 3-pointers, in a 138-131 victory at Landers Center. He snared five rebounds and added two assists and a steal for the Hustle, who were playing their first game since last Friday.
Asked about his performance after the game by Memphis-based reporter Brandon Abraham, Watanabe said: “(Staying) aggressive throughout the game. … They left me wide open a few times from 3-(point range) and I got hot, so I just kept shooting.”
What does the 40-point feat mean to him?
“I’m really proud of myself,” Watanabe said with a smile, “but also my teammates were giving me a lot of great passes, so the credit goes to my teammates, too.”
The 25-year-old Kagawa Prefecture native, who starred at George Washington University before turning pro, had 26 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block against the South Bay Lakers last Friday in a 152-136 Hustle win.
In 17 games this season, Watanabe is averaging 16.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in the G League
The Hustle (20-6) have the best record in the G League’s 13-team Western Conference, and they are back in action against the visiting Raptors 905 on Friday evening.
Watanabe, who competed for Japan at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, has also appeared in four NBA contests this season, contributing 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game for the Grizzlies.