Growing up in Long Beach, Peyton Watson dreamed of the moment that finally came Thursday night. The Bixby Knolls native was in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn where he heard NBA commissioner Adam Silver announce his name as a first-round NBA Draft pick, taken with pick 30 by the Denver Nuggets.
“Peyton Watson is a great kid with unbelievable potential,” said Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth in a post-draft press conference. “Very intelligent, loves basketball, loves playing defense. Those are rare traits for someone with his physical dimensions and athleticism.”
Watson makes history for Long Beach and his high school: He’s the ninth Long Beach Poly alum to make the NBA, tying the Jackrabbits with Mater Dei for most NBA products in California history (Mack Calvin, Tyus Edney, Bobby Jones, Ozell Jones, Ben McDonald, Michael Wiley, Morlon Wiley, and Jordan Bell are the others).
He’s also the first-ever first round draft pick for Poly and just the third-ever Long Beach product to be selected in the first round (Jordan’s James Hardy went 11th in 1978 and Wilson’s Swen Nater went 16th in 1973).
Watson, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound wing, was a McDonald’s All-American at Long Beach Poly. The Nuggets traded JaMychal Green and a 2027 first-round draft pick to Oklahoma City in exchange for the 30th pick, which was used to select Watson.