Yuta Wantanabe: Next Asian NBA Star?

Derek Fox, CBN Staff

As an Asian American, it is common to feel underrepresented in sports, with major leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) having a less than 1% Asian representation amongst their players. 

The last major star representing Asians in the NBA was Jeremy Lin of Taiwan, known for his hot streak with the New York Knicks in 2012, where he was dubbed “Linsanity” and took the world by storm. In his run during 2012, Lin scored 109 points in his first four starts, a legendary record yet to be broken. After suffering multiple injuries after his long spanning feat, Lin has since been unsuccessful in finding a new home in the NBA. 

Since his departure from the NBA, the Asian American community has been looking for its next star. Players who are currently active and have partial or full Asian descent are Rui Hachimura of Japan (Washington Wizards), Jordan Clarkson of the Philippines (Utah Jazz), Yuta Wantanabe of Japan (Brooklyn Nets).

In a time of searching for their next star, the Asian community may have found their new NBA star in this year’s 2022-23 season. This past month, Brooklyn Nets small forward Yuta Wantanabe has been shooting the lights out from three point range, making 57% of his 93 long range attempts. Playing on a team with three all-star caliber players in Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons. Yuta has flourished in his role as a three point shooter on the team. Wantanabe is a 6 ‘8 forward on a less than two million dollar contract for one year. With his recent success behind the arc, he is going to be highly sought after by teams during his free agency this summer. 

Yuta Wantanabe and Rui Hachimura are the only two Japanese players in the entire NBA, and it will be interesting to see how they perform the rest of this season. While an iconic time in basketball history like Linsanity is going to be tough to replicate, Wantanabe has a very bright future in the NBA. Only time will tell if he can fill the shoes as the next NBA star representing the Asian community.