A confident Yuta Watanabe said Sunday he is ready to contribute to an NBA championship push this season with the Phoenix Suns.
The 28-year-old Akatsuki Japan standout played a team-high 30 minutes for the Suns in a 130-126 overtime win against the Detroit Pistons in their preseason matchup at Little Caesars Arena, logging 10 points, five rebounds and two steals.
Having fought to establish himself during previous NBA stops in Memphis and Brooklyn, Watanabe arrived in Phoenix this offseason with the assurance of a two-year contract and a clearly defined role.
With the Suns roster built around the "big three" of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, Watanabe will be tasked with complementing the stars through his shooting and defense off the bench.
"I feel very confident in myself," Watanabe said. "It feels like I've gained a lot of strength. I've learned how to exert energy while remaining under control."
The 203-centimeter swingman, who helped Japan secure 2024 Olympic qualification at the recent FIBA Basketball World Cup, has stated the goal of raising his three-point accuracy from last season's 44.4% to 50% in order to contribute to the Suns' first championship banner.
"To win the championship, we need to do what we've been doing at a higher level," he said.