Yuta Watanabe isn't taking his roster spot for granted this season.
After a quality start to the season as a backup wing off the bench, Watanbe's play has fallen off considerably since returning from COVID-19. He's gone 0-for-5 from three-point range and his high-quality defense hasn't been able to make up for his lack of offensive production. It's why he was benched for two games last week, unable to crack the rotation as Raptors coach Nick Nurse trimmed his lineup down to just seven players.
In an interview Daisuke Sugiura of the Sporting News Japan, Watanabe said he knows he needs to start playing better if he's going to land another contract with the Raptors this summer. He came into last year on a non-guaranteed training camp deal and impressed the organization to stick around and earn a non-guaranteed deal through this season.
Fortunately for Watanabe, his brief five-minute stint against the Washington Wizards on Friday night impressed Nurse enough to give him another look.
"Think he took a step forward tonight," Nurse said. "I still think he made a big step to getting back (into his rhythm) tonight. That'll build some confidence. And hopefully, we'll just keep moving forward. ... He's playing too well, not to get back to that form."