With an exorbitant payroll and restricted financial capacity to spend big in free agency this offseason, the Golden State Warriors will have to make the most of the players they sign with minimum-level contracts.
It’s something they struggled to do effectively in 2022-23. Veteran forwards Andre Iguodala and JaMychal Green didn’t quite have the on-court impact they and the franchise would have hoped, even if the latter started two games against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second-round of the playoffs.
Brooklyn Nets’ forward Yuta Watanabe has been identified as a free agent target for the Golden State Warriors this offseason.
Looking at three players on Golden State’s free agent big board (which includes current Warriors Draymond Green and Donte DiVincenzo), Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley has pinpointed Yuta Watanabe as a worthy option for the 2022 NBA champions.
“Watanabe, a 6’9″ swingman, consistently made his presence felt with energetic defense, transition attacking and a three-ball that fell at a personal-best rate of 44.4 percent (and a ridiculous 51.4 percent from the corners, per NBA.com)”, Buckley wrote.
While Watanabe may not be the tried-and-tested, playoff experienced asset that the Warriors are looking for, perhaps taking a risk on a younger player with a specific skillset is the avenue the franchise should take.
At 28 years of age, Watanabe is hardly a young developing player. In saying that, this season was really the first time he really established himself as a rotation player on a playoff team. He averaged 16 minutes across 58 outings, and as Buckley identified, his perimeter shooting at 6’9″ really became his calling card.
The Warriors have badly missed Otto Porter Jr. since his departure last year, and although Watanabe might not be quite the same calibre of player, the positional fit may be the best Golden State can do given their financial capacity.
The Warriors might think they already have a version of Watanabe in last year’s 28th overall pick Patrick Baldwin Jr. If they think he can become a rotation player by next season then that fills the void, but if not then Watanabe might be a worthy target.