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Yuta Watanabe expressed interest to be back in Raptors’ lineup for next season 

Oct 4, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) celebrates making a basket against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Yuta Watanabe is hoping that he can get a call from the Toronto Raptors for next season. 

In an interview with Sports Hochi, a Japan media outlet, Watanabe expressed his intentions to be back up North for the 2022-2023 season. 

The Asian forward is set to hit free agency this offseason, and only time can tell if the Raptors brass will offer him another playing opportunity. 

“It was a season that proved a lot,” Watanabe said, pertaining to the 2021-2022 season with the Raps (h/t FanSided’s Mike Luciano). “It was a shame that I couldn’t play in the game at the end of the game, but I was confident that I could still do it in the NBA world.” 

Despite playing fewer minutes compared to last year and being sidelined for the first 18 games this season due to a left calf sprain, Watanabe still retained his scoring average of over four points per game to go along with 2.4 boards for Toronto. Still, he enjoyed a fruitful campaign with the franchise, as he got to the NBA Playoffs for the first time in his professional career. 

But entering the postseason arena, the Japanese cager only saw a rare playing exposure against the Philadelphia 76ers throughout the six-game series. 

Yet at 27 years of age, Watanabe has already proved himself being one of the league’s defensive-minded players. His length, positive demeanor, and marketability can perhaps land a contract from the other teams within the association this summer. 

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