Nets player Yuuta Watanabe will miss the remainder of the trip with a hamstring injury

TORONTO — The Nets won’t quickly evolve into Yuta Watanabe’s glue factor at least through the rest of their current road trip.

The crowd favorite has a strained right hamstring and won’t play at least until Sunday against the Trail Blazers at Barclays Center.

He got an MRI [exam] In Philly and Utah he has a hamstring strain,” Jack Vaughn said before the Nets beat the Raptors 112-98 on Wednesday night, adding that he will miss that game and the game on Friday in Indiana. “So we’ll reevaluate when we get home.

“I definitely miss him. I talked a little bit [Tuesday] How do I put a little pressure, because it gives us the ability to play big and small. And there was a stretch where we just missed it, so we had to run Royce [O’Neale] For a little longer, he ends up playing 38, 39, 40 minutes. So it puts pressure on the group in general.”

Watanabe, who led the league in 3-point percentage (. 571) and real shooting (. 781), played with the Raptors from 2020-22.

Yuuta Watanabe put up a shot during the Nets’ win over the Grizzlies earlier in the season.
Corey Sipkin

“He’s the best shooter in the world right now,” Kyrie Irving said of Watanabe. “The stats now prove it. He is the best shooter in the best league in the world right now.

“So we just want him to stay confident and take the chances he gets there. It makes the game a lot easier and we have players who are willing to sacrifice their bodies night after night, and we want to reward them, especially when they hit the ball.”

Raptors coach Nick Nurse watched Watanabe become a fan favorite in Toronto, but he didn’t stay on the ground long enough to fulfill his potential.

“He’s shooting it really well this year. He’s just leading the league in terms of shooting percentage by three points. It’s really beautiful,” said the nurse.

“[He gave us] Much of what you see is offered there. He is a utility player, plays hard, runs and cuts and shoots, a good complementary piece to the attack as he understands spacing and cutting well. He didn’t hit the ball with us like he did with the Nets this year, and he didn’t stay healthy with us.”

“He had some really good moments where he looked like he was heading in. … He came out of pre-season last year playing really well and it looked like he was going to be a big part of the rotation and then he got injured and finally that got fixed in December and he started playing really well again, Then he got COVID. Just continuing to run into a hurdle with us was probably the biggest thing. But a very good team player and he saves a lot of little things for the team.”

In addition to Watanabe, Seth Curry (left ankle) and TJ Warren (left foot) were also off the net.

Warren hasn’t played since signing this summer, but he’s close to getting cleared for full training.

“He did one-on-one, he played three-on-three against other players,” said Vaughn. “I missed the last practice but he’s definitely playing against other guys now, so he’s definitely made that progress.”

Fred VanVleet (non-COVID illness) and Scotty Barnes (knee) have left for Toronto.

Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, O’Neal, and Nick Claxton started out for the Nets. Claxton told The Post his “non-COVID illness” was just a common cold, and he should be free to extend his minutes.

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