Title: Dual career nights show Raptors’ Paul Watson, Yuta Watanabe as kindred grinders, opportunists
Date: April 16, 2021
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about dual career nights for a pair of Raptors’ grinders, Paul Watson Jr. and Yuta Watanabe.
You would have been forgiven if you’d been late getting back to Friday’s game between the Raptors and Magic after halftime. It’s not that the first two quarters weren’t fun, just that they felt somewhat procedural. The two teams were down a combined 10 players and entered the night a combined 31 games under .500, their fan bases worrying as much about the reverse standings as the upright ones.
Had you tuned in to the third quarter a few minutes late, the Raptors broadcast would have inevitably been showing you Paul Watson Jr. Why that was the case, though, would have been completely lost on you. Was he ice-cold and trying to break through a slump? Was he hurt and playing through it? Had he just been in a fight with a Magic player? Watson’s demeanour betrayed nothing.
Eventually, the camera would have caught the Raptors bench, which would have been an alarming contrast in energy. There was assistant coach Jama Mahlalela leaning out of his chair and toward the scorer’s table to watch Watson release a 3 in space. There was Pascal Siakam, resting in a Toronto FC jersey for the night, up and dancing. There was Yuta Watanabe leaping out of his chair and DeAndre’ Bembry throwing up three fingers. Look closely, and there was even Jalen Harris way in the back throwing his arms up.