MELBOURNE is finally beginning to see the very best of Jack Watts.
Watts produced one of the best games of his heavily-scrutinised 129-game career in Melbourne's gallant 22-point loss to Adelaide at the MCG on Sunday.
The 25-year-old scored a career-high 29.8 Schick AFL Player Ratings points, the second-highest score of the round behind Swans midfielder Luke Parker (30.3).
Watts finished the game as Melbourne's most influential player, alongside youngster Jayden Hunt, with 23 disposals at 87 per cent disposal efficiency.
Watts even spent most of the third quarter as the loose man in defence after Adelaide piled on four goals in five minutes. It was a move coach Paul Roos credited in allowing the Demons to steady and regroup, as they tried in vain to chase the Crows down.
Watts, the No.1 selection in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft, also took eight marks and kicked three goals to complete his performance.
His snap goal across his body from 40m out in the second term was evidence of a highly skilled player at the top of his game.
According to Champion Data, Watts was ranked elite in kicking, forward 50 marking and accuracy in front of goal against the Crows.
Roos said Watts had made great strides in his development during the coach's time at the club and deserved the plaudits that have come his way during 2016.
"I take joy because I've seen how much he got bashed over the three years I've been here and the six years prior," Roos said after the match.
"He's a terrific person, he's worked really hard on his game and he's just a great fella."
The Demons credit development coach Brendan McCartney in helping Watts sharpen up the contested side of his game.
The pair have worked tirelessly on getting Watts' defensive actions up to scratch, as well as having a focus on winning the footy, being clean, and being defensively sound.
Watts has already booted a career-best 27 goals in 2016, the second-highest haul of any Melbourne player, behind spearhead Jesse Hogan.
His accuracy at goal is another key feature of his game, with an impressive return of 27.8 for the season.
When Watts gets opportunities, he makes them count.
Watts, who remains unsigned for 2017, has become a crucial figure in Melbourne's forward structure and is well suited to the mobile forward role that he has played for much of this season.
"For him to now get some reward and to be playing such good footy is great," Roos said.
"I'm loving what he's doing, I'm loving watching him play and it's exciting for Melbourne people."