Yuta Watanabe is close to returning from injury after a surprise blowout by the Nets

The Nets missed Yuta Watanabe – a fact that even he didn’t imagine.

– No one expected this, right? Watanabe said at the team’s training ground on Tuesday. “Even myself. My goal in the training was only to become a team.”

The Nets forward fixed the team, and then made an impressive impact through the first 14 games of the season. Watanabe was the NBA’s best 3-point shooter (57.1 percent) and starred off the Nets’ bench before straining his hamstring on Nov. 20 in a win over the Grizzlies. said that he felt the injury while lifting the weight.

As Watanabe nears his return — he’ll miss Wednesday’s Game 9 against the Hornets, but he’s expected to play Friday against the Hawks or Saturday at Indiana — the Nets have a surprisingly important piece back.

The 28-year-old has shown he can drain the open 3 as opposing defenses stick to Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving. Quick and 6-foot-9, Watanabe can grab rebounds and play defense, important components for a small team.

Yuta Watanabe
Yuta Watanabe
NBAE via Getty Images

In his fifth NBA season, he found his first real niche.

“I thought I was playing really well. I finally got some playing time. I really enjoyed the moment,” said Watanabe, whose offseason was paying off. “It was definitely nerve-wracking, the injury took me out.”

Watanabe played two-on-two and three-on-three during voluntary practice on Tuesday and looked fine. Head coach Jacques Vaughan said he “hopes” Watanabe will play back-to-back this weekend.

When he steps back on the court, Watanabe will rejoin the team he says is the happiest he’s ever been in his NBA career.

“I’m always a happy guy no matter what,” said Watanabe, who also played in Memphis and Toronto. “But of course – playing a few minutes and playing with some greats. [This is] Of course, I would say now is the happiest moment.

Guard Edmond Sumner (right glute contusion) is questionable for Wednesday. After Sunday’s loss to the Celtics, Sumner did some shooting work on Tuesday.

“He definitely felt better than he did the other day,” Vaughn said.

Forward TJ Warren, who has played in two games since returning from left foot surgery, will miss both ends of back-to-back games Friday and Saturday.

“The goal is to play in the playoffs for us at the end of the year,” Vaughn said. “So maybe we… [be] More conservative with it this weekend.

Kessler Edwards, Day’Ron Sharp, David Duke Jr. and Alondes Williams will be on G-League assignments on Wednesday.

The embattled Hornets will continue to be without LaMelo Ball (ankle), Gordon Hayward (shoulder), Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle) and Cody Martin (knee), all of whom will miss the game against the Nets .


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