Just three days after scoring 20 goals and scoring 5 seconds, Watanabe again had one of the best games of his career on Sunday against the Grizzlies, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. From the moment he arrived, Watanabe completely changed the net’s energy.
He also continued his hot 3-point shooting to open the year, hitting 4-of-6 from deep to bring his season percentage to 57.1 percent.
This all-around performance got the Brooklyn fans excited enough to give Watanabe a standing ovation upon exiting the game.
Yuuta Watanabe is the league leader in 3-point percentage at 57.1% (!!!)
16 points, 3 assists, standing ovation in the W against the Grizzlies last night. pic.twitter.com/vjweHBE5NF
– StephNoh November 21, 2022
MORE: How Yuta Watanabe became the NBA’s most accurate pitcher
Yuuta Watanabe received a standing ovation from the Nets fans
Watanabe addressed the fans in the post-match match, thanking them for the love.
Watanabe said, “It means a lot to me. Thank you for your help. We’ll keep getting better. Thank you guys.”
“You can tell how much my team-mates trust me by how I pass the ball,” Watanabe added. “They were giving me great passes. I just took open shots. It was a team effort.”
The new and improved Yūta Watanabe shot
Watanabe has earned the trust of his teammates with the speed and accuracy with which he has managed 3 shots this season. Watanabe hit just 12.5 percent of his 3 as a starter for the Grizzlies in the 2018-19 season and didn’t hit the rim on his first career attempt. It has improved greatly since then.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins pointed out those changes after the game. Per Alex Schafer of The AthleticJenkins felt that Watanabe had expedited his release and increased his confidence. “He just lets it fly and doesn’t think about it,” said Jenkins.
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Former Grizzlies vice president John Hollinger agreed with Jenkins’ assessment, calling it “100% correct.” in a tweet after the game. Hollinger later chirp that he was “happy for Yuta”, who had “really improved his shooting since his first year with us”.
Watanabe has already improved greatly as a shooter since his first two years in the league with the Grizzlies, both in terms of letting him fly and being more accurate.
|year||3 attempts points for every 36 minutes||3 percentage points|
Watanabe made two major changes to get his shot faster and more accurate.
The first is to use step 1-2 instead of jumping when he collects the ball. When Watanabe first got into the league, he would jump in after catching passes to get his feet up. Now, he takes a small step with his right foot before receiving the ball, then a small step with his left foot to align his body after catching it.
The second major change to his shooting form is that he no longer drops the ball to his thighs when making a pass. Instead, he keeps the ball above his waist, and moves straight into his shot. This resulted in faster filtering, which is very noticeable side by side.
Watanabe clearly put a lot of work into re-shaping his shot, and the results are paying off. He leads the league in 3-point percentage, has become a fan favorite in Brooklyn, and is an integral part of their team.