Before the game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had high praise for the third-year man, saying that his scouting report was filled with more of Metu than it had been before.
“[Kuminga’s] got to be great defensively, he’ll guard Harrison Barnes at times, he’ll guard Metu who’s been playing well. We need [Kuminga] to lock [Metu] defensively.”
Jonathan Kuminga was Metu’s defensive assignment in the first quarter, and Kerr emphasized he would have his hands full staying in front of the Kings’ surging young forward.
Since health and safety protocols swept the Kings last Wednesday, leaving six players and their head coach missing, Metu has stepped up in a big way. The product of Nigeria is averaging 11 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2 blocks in 30 minutes of play through the four games Alvin Gentry has been absent. His best game came in Friday night’s route of the Memphis Grizzlies, where Metu recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
So what’s working for Mezie? The at-times erratic three-point shooter has reigned in the chucks and found his stride in the mid-range and at the cup. With more reps, he appears to look more in-rhythm, and in the absence of now seven Kings players, his production is exactly what the Kings have needed.
It’s been a turbulent season for Metu, going from cracking the starting lineup under Luke Walton’s tenure to receiving multiple DNP’s under Gentry, but now that Sacramento needs bodies, Metu has brought an heir of professionalism we haven’t seen before. As COVID continues to ravage this team and the league at large, a feel-good moment in a young player’s career has been refreshing to watch, especially as it converts into victories.