The Phoenix Suns shook up the back end of their roster at the trade deadline, saying goodbye to no less than four players, all of which were signed last offseason. In doing so the organization acquired Royce O'Neale and David Roddy, two players it is hoped can have a greater impact on the rotation.
Of the four players who were moved on - Keita Bates-Diop, Yuta Watanabe, Chimezie Metu and Jordan Goodwin - it is the ditching of Watanabe (who has returned to the Memphis Grizzlies) that seemed the hardest to process. Although Bates-Diop looked like an ideal defensive-minded player next to the Suns' stars, Watanabe's shooting was supposed to unlock extra spacing offensively.
Why then did it not work out for the Japanese international during his brief stint in The Valley, and after being signed to much fanfare last offseason?
It feels like there were several factors at play here, all of which contributed in some way to Watanabe failing to make the most of his chance with the team. This after having a memorable campaign as a role player for the Brooklyn Nets only a season ago - and with the Grizzlies floundering right now - it is unclear where Watanabe's career will go from there.
3. Watanabe couldn't hit his shots
Watanabe was brought in to hit the many open looks he was supposed to get on this roster, and he failed to do so. That, more than anything else, is the reason why it did not work out with him for the Suns. Although he has a big frame and tries defensively, he is still limited on that end and was seen as the perfect spot-up shooter.
Last season with the Nets he shot a ridiculous 44.4 percent from 3-point range, and for a large portion of the season led the league in corner threes made. To see that number shrink to 32 percent this season was unacceptable for a group with title aspirations, especially as Watanabe also took a career high 2.6 attempts from beyond the arc.
He didn't start a single one of the 29 games he played - which in itself could be viewed as a disappointment - and made little impact off the bench. The 13.2 minutes he managed per game reflects this, while the 66 percent he managed from the free-throw line is not only a poor number, but proof he didn't diversify his game enough when his shots weren't falling.
Perhaps no number encapsulates Watanabe's struggles more than the zero made 3-pointers he had in the month of January, while attempting over four of them. Across 33 minutes played total in that month - which took in six games - Watanabe's days were always going to be numbered after such a poor showing.