30Q | Articles

30Q: How can Chimezie Metu find a consistent role next season?

Metu was Nigeria's leading scorer this summer, but did he show any substantial improvement that could translate to the NBA?

The Sacramento Kings spent far too long last season searching for an optimal solution at the starting power forward spot. Maurice Harkless had earned that label coming out of training camp, but Luke Walton decided a change was needed after just 13 games. In an attempt to minimize their rebounding struggles, the decision was made to insert Metu and re-evaluate after five games. Turns out that Luke Walton was simultaneously being re-evaluated which led to his firing and Alvin Gentry being promoted to the interim head coaching position immediately following Metu’s fifth game as a starter.

Gentry clearly wasn’t the biggest fan of Metu’s performance throughout that stretch and elected to not play the Nigerian forward a single minute in Sacramento’s next two games. Then he started another five games before sitting the next two. That was just the beginning of what would be a year-long journey of inconsistent playing time for Chimezie Metu, which seemed to frustrate him.

It’s understandable why that would be the case, but there also wasn’t anything substantial Metu was consistently bringing to the floor that made finding playing time for him a necessity. Their rebounding had improved, but their defense suffered, and there was not much brought from a spacing perspective either. 

With former Nigerian National Team head coach Mike Brown at the helm heading into the 2022-23 NBA season, Chimzie Metu’s role is uncertain but he will be playing for a familiar face – not to mention Jordi Fernandez and Luke Loucks, who were also on a Nigerian national team coaching staff that featured Metu, KZ Okpala, and Chima Moneke.

While his aforementioned coaches and teammates did not participate in Nigeria’s five FIBA World Cup Qualifiers throughout the course of this summer, Metu functioned as the leading scorer of a team whose only other NBA talent was Josh Okogie.

Metu’s pairing of height (6’9”) and impressive athleticism and fluidity make for an intriguing hypothetical ceiling, and there were plenty of flashes to witness during his recent time with Nigeria.

Through five games, Metu averaged 16.8 points on 45 percent from the field and converted 31.4% of his seven three-point attempts per game. Elite efficiency is an often unreasonable ask from the leading scorer of any basketball team when burdened with creating their own looks more often than not. 

The concern with Metu comes in the shot quality of his attempts. There is substantial value in being able to convert tough shots, but the most common path to efficiency is being able to create space and generate open looks which Metu was not able to consistently do with either Sacramento or Nigeria up to this point in 2022.

Relying on tough shot-making leads to the inconsistencies that plagued him last year. It’s what causes him to follow up an 18-point first half (6/10 FG – 5/9 3P) against Cote d’Ivoire with a second half where his only offensive conversions were two free-throws in an eventual loss.

There are not many players in the NBA that make their living taking and making heavily contested jump shots and I’d imagine that’s not what Mike Brown and Sacramento’s recently revamped coaching staff are hoping to get out of Chimezie Metu in 2022-23.

Luckily for Metu, Domantas Sabonis could do wonders for idealizing his offensive strengths. Per Cleaning the Glass, Metu converted 68 percent of his attempts at the rim last year and 71 percent the year prior. His physical tools should allow for him to be a substantial threat as a cutter and Sabonis will surely reward any well-timed movements. Here are two examples from the first game that the two of them played together in royal purple.

Though, for that frontcourt pairing to be mutually beneficial, Metu will have to be a capable floor spacer which is an area of struggle. Metu converted 30.6 percent of his 3.1 three-point attempts with the Kings last season, and the numbers get even more ugly the deeper you dive into them. Of his 185 total attempts from beyond the arc, only seven of them came with a defender within four feet of him, per NBA.com. When the closest defender was at least six feet away from Metu, he only managed to convert triples at a 28.6 percent rate (34/119). Defenses were more than happy to help off the Nigerian forward and he struggled to punish them for doing so.

Spacing will undeniably be essential to fully optimize both De’Aaron Fox and Sabonis this coming season and it’s tough to envision Chezimie Metu being given many opportunities if those numbers remain somewhat similar. Confidence played a major part in Metu’s struggles there last season and a good start in that aspect could be all he needs to solidify himself as an average shooter in the NBA and therefore unlock his finishing ability when attacking closeouts.

Scoring is not the only upside that lies within Metu’s game, however. He has shined as a rebounder, as Walton highlighted early last season, and there are moments of weakside rim protection as well. 

It’s consistency that once again remains an issue. For every promising block, there is at least one late rotation or blown coverage that leads to an easy two or trip to the line for the opposition.

At 25 years old and heading into his fifth NBA season, the time is ticking for Chemezie Metu to prove that he belongs in an NBA rotation. If he can prove to hit wide-open threes at a league-average level and be the best rim-protection on Sacramento’s main roster (which is an admittedly very low bar), then it wouldn’t be surprising to see the coaching staff look in his direction. It also wouldn’t shock anyone if he was slated behind all of Trey Lyles and even KZ Okpala at the start of the regular season.

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Jack
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September 14, 2022 5:43 pm

I have a hard time seeing much playing time for Metu. Trey Lyles will be playing more and if something like a trade involving Holmes comes about then he would lose more time.Then there is KZ who could take time away also.

4on5
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September 14, 2022 6:11 pm

A few Kings fans are still trying to make Metu happen?

eddie41
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September 14, 2022 7:29 pm
Reply to  4on5

#Metu

LongLivePeteCarril
September 14, 2022 8:31 pm
Reply to  eddie41

ha! i see what you did there. well played sir

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
September 14, 2022 8:56 pm

He’s the Terrance Davis of big men on this roster. He’s gonna have to earn it and excel in the limited minutes he’s given to make an impact on this roster.

murraytant
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September 14, 2022 9:51 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

that’s a clever way to put it- he is the TD of the forwards. Talented but erratic and not consistent enough but sometimes……

RikSmits
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September 14, 2022 10:48 pm

OT (or a wordplay on #Metu):

With the baffling Sarver “punishment”, I can forget about my dream of Vivek ever getting kicked out as an owner, right?

What a shitshow.

Last edited 16 days ago by RikSmits
catterj
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September 15, 2022 9:06 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Here is the PHX and Sarver report. Of course it is easily google-able but just to make it easier.

Extreme lamezballz “punishment” by Silver and whomever else made the decision. I honestly wonder if Sarver has something on Silver and whomever else decided.

I just shared on Twitter that while I of course would much rather have a good, honorable team owner AND a winning team, I, for one and FOR SURE, would choose Vivek and our losing over PHX’s winning and a repugnant loathsome owner like Sarver.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
September 15, 2022 10:38 am
Reply to  catterj

Silver said the quiet part out loud. There are a different set of rules for owners compared to every other employee in The League. Unless they had Sarver on tape or video, like they did with Sterling, Adam Silver knew there was no chance in hell Sarver wouldn’t go down without a long, ugly, and expensive litigious fight. T

his punishment was the best Silver could do, and the other 29 owners weren’t about to start a trend of eating their own for words spoken behind closed doors. I’m sure many of them have their own skeletons in their closets.

Sadly a $10M fine is a drop in the bucket for a billionaire like Silver, and what does a year’s suspension for an owner even mean? Is he not allowed to attend the games or something? What does he have to do other than sign checks?

fossilizedflatus
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September 15, 2022 11:16 am
Reply to  Adamsite

My hot take:

Commissioner Silver is hired by the Board of Governors who are representative of franchise ownership. He can write policy which is then approved by the Board for some things, has mandate power for others.

Even with Donald Sterling, the NBA Board and Commissioner was unable to force the issue. They can coerce mightily I am sure. In the cases of George Shin and Donald Sterling they bought out their interests. The NBA Board purchased the Hornets/Pelicans and Steve Ballmer stepped in and overpaid for the Clippers by a huge amount – the team was valued at $1.2B at the time but the capital gains tax (Sterling purchased the team for around $80,000!!) was sizable so the overpay took that into account and the team was purchased for $2B, a record at the time.

Public outrage, Board of Governor pressure will force a transfer of ownership within the next three years I would be willing to bet. Expect the fires of today to be infernos tomorrow. It may not happen in a day or a week or a month but Governor Sarver will be no more.

Vivek Ranadive, for all of his faults, is simply incompetent. He appears to want to listen and use his position for social good. He is an awful sports team owner, but at least from my perspective, is not an awful human being.

jwalker1395
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September 15, 2022 5:24 am

The flashes from Metu are always exciting but just too few and far between.

Lyles is the guy that knocks down the open shot, makes the right decisions, and provides solid post defense and rebounding. His consistency will be what separates him from Metu in the rotation imo.

Last edited 16 days ago by Jacob Walker
RandyBreuersNeckHair
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September 15, 2022 6:01 am

Does a consistent role of warming the bench count?

RobHessing
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September 15, 2022 12:04 pm

comment image

DutchKingsFanInUK
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September 15, 2022 6:26 am

The problem is that the idea of Metu, a combination of size, skill and athleticism, is much better than the actual product. Yes he has all these things, but also lacks basketball IQ, consistency and one standout feature.

To answer Brendan’s question, there are only two ways for him to get a consistent role in the rotation: either he develops a skill that makes him impossible to ignore (ie great shooting or become a good defender all of the sudden), or multiple bigs get injured all of the sudden. In short: he needs to improve substantially. If he doesn’t, he shouldn’t crack the rotation.

jwalker1395
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September 15, 2022 9:00 am

I think what he demonstrated this summer is he’s a star and #1 option at a lower level, but he doesn’t have the skill to be that in the NBA and struggles to adapt to his role which makes him difficult to play at all.

Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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September 15, 2022 7:02 am

Can we do a 30Q on Puke Guy? Some of us would like to know he’s ok.

It can be a real simple article. Just throw it up there.

RobHessing
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September 15, 2022 12:06 pm

I expectorate more from you, HHB.

fossilizedflatus
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September 15, 2022 12:40 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I heard his favorite player is Bobby Hurley

RobHessing
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September 15, 2022 3:28 pm

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AnybodyButBagley
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September 15, 2022 8:58 pm

Wonder about Metu actually establishing himself in the NBA or focus on the Kings actually playing decent basketball?

Metu is the sideshow for the team to talk about the future while getting embarrassed every time someone rolls a basketball onto the floor.

I personally hope that Metu is in the background improving or waived.

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