When Nugget’s first-round pick Peyton Watson was a junior in high school, he had a very famous fan watching one of his breakout games.
This is how Watson and Kevin Durant’s relationship began. Durant got in touch with Watson’s uncle and it wasn’t long before Watson was communicating with Durant regularly via Instagram.
Now Watson calls Durant his “guy” and said the two talk almost daily.
“He really took me under his wing,” Watson said Sunday at the Ball Arena after the Nuggets’ second day of practice in the Summer League.
Of all the things Durant told the slim, 6-foot-8 forward from UCLA, the message that resonated most with the rookie was simple.
“Just worry about being the best basketball player you can be,” Watson said. Durant told him not to delve into the politics of what he can’t control or the social media that can engulf NBA players. And no, Watson wasn’t asked about Durant’s next team after the megastar requested a trade with the Brooklyn Nets last week.
“A lot of people compare me to KD,” Watson said. “But me and KD know I’m Peyton Watson.”
Watson said he thinks Durant appreciates the confidence he has in himself, even as he admits he models his game after Durant.
Recently, Watson found himself training with Durant and newly acquired Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. If Watson develops the way the Nuggets envision, perhaps these two could find themselves as the backbone of a drastically improved Denver defense.
Watson, who was buried on the depth list for the Bruins last season and didn’t play much, knew the Nuggets were interested in him during the preliminary draft process. Despite averaging just 3.3 points in under 13 minutes per game, Watson instilled a steely belief in himself. He knows his 3-point shooting needs improvement – and that’s an area where he’s working focused – but he’s caught the eye of Denver for his defensive frame and versatility.
“I know myself that I’m a first-round pick,” said Watson. “I know myself that there are no 29 guys better than me in this draft.”
It’s been little more than a week since he became an NBA player, and Watson is just beginning to grapple with the process. He described his routine as “beautiful” and reveled in the fact that all he had to think about was basketball and nothing else.
Summer League head coach Ryan Bowen praised his early approach, citing his length, decision making and movement off the ball. Bowen was particularly pleased with his work ethic and the fact that he asks questions.
“He’s part of it,” Bowen said.
When practice ended on Saturday, Watson retired to his hotel room and lay on the bed. Having already trained, he didn’t know what else to do with his day.
“It’s one of those things that I can’t get enough of,” Watson said. “Hoop is like a vitamin for me. I have to have it every day.”
https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/07/04/nuggets-first-round-pick-peyton-watson-kevin-durant/ Kevin Durant ‘took me under his wing’ – Greeley Tribune