NBA Future Watch: Peyton Watson Basketball Cards, Denver Nuggets – Peyton Watson is an incredible athlete who is frankly the poster child for players adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not in terms of Watson’s own health, but the timeline of having his senior season in high school suffering massive disruptions. His freshman season in college found him buried on the depth chart with an established team. However, circumstances have conspired to place Watson on the roster of Denver, perhaps the NBA’s foremost buy-low/player development success story. So his chances for substantial growth are very encouraging.
The sense in the scouting community that the Nuggets have done it again in terms of swiping an undervalued commodity comes from the most predictable place – Watson’s pedigree. A four-year varsity player at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in California, Watson progressed to a substantial breakthrough in his junior season with 23.2 PPG and 8 RPG. By the time that Watson wrapped up his prep career, he had been named to the McDonald’s All-American, Jordan Brand Classic, and Nike Hoop Summit rosters. And, unsurprisingly with that resume, Watson had earned the status of five-star recruit.
Before taking the court at UCLA, Watson contributed to the USA Men’s Basketball Team. They took the gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup in July 2021. For the next 12 months, that would be as good as it got for Watson. He was buried on the bench of a squad coming off a Final Four appearance in win-now mode. 9th on the team in MPG and 7th in FGA (at only 3.7!), Watson’s contributions were negligible. To his credit, Watson maintained a positive attitude in less-than-optimal circumstances.
With the depth chart clearing out a bit at Pauley Pavilion, the percentage move for Watson would have been to come back for another season to reestablish his profile. Many high picks in the 2022 NBA Draft, such as Keegan Murray, Jaden Ivey, Bennedict Mathurin and Johnny Davis, made this choice. Instead, Watson audaciously bet on himself and joined these players in the draft, landing at the bottom of the first round with Denver.
Watson’s athleticism marks him as an immediate contributor on defense when he receives opportunities. Watson’s primary challenges will be to expand his scoring range and consistency and secondary playmaking. Denver continues its ascent towards the top of the NBA behind the contributions of once-undervalued stars such as Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. Watson will have an excellent chance of joining them in being recognized as a substantial breakthrough player in the NBA of the 2020s
NBA Future Watch: Peyton Watson Basketball Cards, Denver Nuggets – Stats
Statistical image from Sports Reference 11/3/2022
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