Watanabe Is Everything the Kings Want


The Sacramento Kings are coming off their most successful season in over 15 years. After making the postseason as the No. 3 seed with a record of 48-34, the Kings are looking to prove that it was not a fluke.

Sacramento currently has six players set to hit the open market and have a projected $24 million in cap space.

In preparation for 2023’s impressive forward free-agent class, there is one forward that is sure to maximize SAC’s depth in the frontcourt — Yuta Watanabe.


The biggest question the Kings face going into the summer surrounds Harrison Barnes. Having assumed the veteran role both on and off the hardwood for the past four years, Barnes is a large reason for Sacramento’s culture shift throughout all levels of the organization.

The team made it explicitly clear that they want Barnes back next season, with head coach Mike Brown calling him “irreplaceable.”

Assuming the Kings bring back Barnes and fellow free agent-teammate Trey Lyles — who has expressed his desire to return to the team — the Kings will still need forward depth behind Keegan Murray, Barnes and Lyles.

If this scenario does happen, the Kings will likely not have the luxury to pursue any big-name free-agent forwards.

This is where Brooklyn’s Yuta Watanabe could potentially slide in.


Watanabe is a 6-foot-8 forward that seemingly has everything the Kings want. On offense, Watanabe is a lights-out shooter that specializes in the catch and shoot. Watanabe had the 10th-highest catch-and-shooting percentage in the league at 45.7% for players taking a minimum of two shots per game.

In an offense with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, Watanabe could thrive as the recipient of drive and kicks from Fox or outlet passes from Sabonis as the defense collapses on him.

Defensively, Watanabe’s effort is exactly what Coach Brown wants. Watanabe earned a spot in the NBA because of his defense. While not an elite defender, his defensive intensity and effort are infectious.

His size would provide options for Brown when it comes to crashing the boards. After some horrendous rebound performances this postseason, adding some size and effort to the floor makes sense for this roster.

The Kings need to surround Fox and Sabonis with shooters. In the playoff series against the Warriors, the Kings shot a horrific 30.5% from beyond the arc. Both Barnes and Kevin Huerter specifically went ice-cold, shooting under 25%.

The Kings need shooting depth on this roster, and Watanabe can bring that.

Heading into the 2023-2024 season, the Kings are brining the same offensively elite core they had this season. If they want to become real contenders, they need to improve their roster by finding players that supplement their needs and weaknesses. Watanabe has the potential to be that player.

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About Carlos Ganarial

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