Earl Joseph Watson Jr. (born June 12, 1979) is an American former professional basketball player and the former head coach for the Phoenix Suns in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and he is a head coach for Lavar Ball’s new JBA league. He played college basketball for the UCLA Bruins, where he was a four-year starter and named all-conference as a senior in the Pac-10 (now known as the Pac-12). Watson was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in the second round of the 2001 NBA draft with the 39th overall selection. He played 13 seasons in the NBA with seven teams before becoming a coach in 2014.
Watson with the Pacers in December 2009
June 12, 1979|
Kansas City, Kansas
|Listed height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Listed weight||199 lb (90 kg)|
|High school||Washington (Kansas City, Kansas)|
|NBA draft||2001 / Round: 2 / Pick: 39th overall|
|Selected by the Seattle SuperSonics|
|Number||25, 8, 2, 11, 17|
|2006–2009||Seattle SuperSonics / Oklahoma City Thunder|
|2013–2014||Portland Trail Blazers|
|2014–2015||Austin Spurs (assistant)|
|2015–2016||Phoenix Suns (assistant)|
|2016||Phoenix Suns (interim)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||5,593 (6.4 ppg)|
|Assists||3,871 (4.4 apg)|
|Steals||873 (1.0 spg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Watson was a starter in college at UCLA, at one point playing alongside future NBA All-Star Baron Davis. They were the first two freshmen to start at UCLA since the 1979 season. A four-year starter, Watson started the most consecutive games in the history of UCLA basketball. As a senior, He averaged 14.7 points (2nd on the team, 9th in the pac-10), 5.2 assists, (1st on the team, 2nd most in the Pac-10) 3.7 rebounds, 0.3 blocks, and 1.9 steals (most in the Pac-10, most on the team) per game. He earned All-Pac-10 First Team Honors.
Watson was selected in the second round (39th overall) by the SuperSonics in the 2001 NBA draft. In the 2007–08 NBA season, Watson averaged 10.7 points and 6.8 assists with the Sonics. On February 6, 2008, Watson recorded his first-ever triple-double in a game against the Sacramento Kings. Watson logged 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in 32 minutes. It was Seattle's first triple-double since Ray Allen registered one on January 28, 2004, against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Watson retired as a player on October 2, 2014.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
On October 2, 2014, Watson was hired as an assistant coach by the Austin Spurs of the NBA D-League, effectively ending his 13-year playing career. He joined the Phoenix Suns as their new assistant coach on July 30, 2015. However, after a poor start to the 2015–16 season, the Suns fired coach Jeff Hornacek and replaced him with Watson as the interim head coach for the rest of the season. While Watson would make his coaching debut on February 2, 2016 at home against the Toronto Raptors, it wouldn't be until February 27, almost a month later, where he'd record his first win with the Suns at home against the Memphis Grizzlies, a team he had previously played under. He would then get his first two-game winning streak on the road as a coach with victories on March 4 against the Orlando Magic and March 6 against the Grizzlies, respectively. After starting out the season with only one victory in ten games for February, he'd end the season with an 8–15 record the rest of the way, including ending the season with a 3–1 stint.
On April 19, the Suns announced that they had agreed to a three-year deal with Watson due to the positive nature he had that was instilled upon the team after he was first hired, making him the full-time head coach of the team. At the time of his promotion to permanent head coach, Watson was the second-youngest head coach in the NBA (behind only Luke Walton), being 36 when he first started coaching. Watson also became the first former UCLA Bruins player to become a head coach in the NBA, as well as the first NBA head coach of Hispanic descent. During Watson's first full season as head coach, he continued to promote the same philosophical mindset he had for the Suns back when he first started coaching them, but he'd also adjust the team's focus to being more involved with defense first and then offense second.
After the Suns got off to a 0–3 start to the 2017–18 season, with two blowouts (including the worst loss in franchise history and worst season opening performance in NBA history), Watson was fired on October 22, and replaced on an interim basis by associate head coach Jay Triano for the rest of the season.
|Regular season||G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win–loss %|
|Post season||PG||Playoff games||PW||Playoff wins||PL||Playoff losses||PW–L %||Playoff win–loss %|
|Phoenix||2015–16||33||9||24||.273||4th in Pacific||—||—||—||–||Missed playoffs|
|Phoenix||2016–17||82||24||58||.293||5th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
Watson's father, Earl, is African American and his mother, Estella, is Mexican American. Because his maternal grandparents were born in Mexico, Watson was eligible to play for the Mexico national basketball team. Watson has four brothers and one sister. He is also involved with the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Arizona. One of his brothers, Dwayne, was a retired police officer who died due to blood clots in his legs that were dislodged during an altercation. The assailant, Tremaine Quinn, was sentenced to 36 months of probation for the action. That incident would be a major driving force for Earl to take up coaching in basketball. Watson founded the organization "Emagine" to positively impact the youth of his hometown Kansas City, Kansas.
In August 2010 they separated and their divorce was finalized in 2015.
In August 2018, Watson proposed to girlfriend and American radio personality Joy Taylor.
Watson is also considered a supporter of the Amateur Athletic Union programs, saying that the right program and right people involved can lead towards more positive experiences for the people involved. He also stated that he likely would have never gotten a scholarship for UCLA if he didn't have the AAU around. That kind of support would ultimately help lead him to join LaVar Ball's Junior Basketball Association committee.