In the second half of the 2021-22 season, Chimezie Metu finally got some extended playing time in the NBA, appearing in 36 games and putting up 6.3 points and 3.1 assists per game and generally looking solid in his minutes with the Kings.
Metu’s best plays and moments on the court were pretty tantalizing. At 6 foot 9, Metu has a nice combination of touch around the rim, ability to stretch the floor and athleticism, all of which he flashed in his first season in Sacramento.
Metu entered the 2020-21 season on a two-way contract with the Kings after spending the first two seasons of his career with the San Antonio Spurs. Thanks to his strong play, the Kings gave Metu a multi-year contract for the minimum which they guaranteed for the upcoming season.
Heading into this season, question is whether Metu was just showing out in the dog days of the season, or if he’s a legit guy the Kings will want to have around for years going forward.
Let’s look at the range of outcomes for Metu during the 2021-22 season.
Best-case: Metu proves his small sample size shooting percentages are legit and fills the stretch four role on the Kings’ roster. Despite a crowded frontcourt, the Kings use Metu as a bench big that gets around 15 minutes a game.
Metu made 13 of his 37 three pointers and flashed some additional shotmaking and dribble moves from midrange. The sample size is obviously small, but Metu’s shot looked smooth and confident for what it’s worth.
In a Kings frontcourt that features mainly guys that like to hang around the rim, Metu could be a guy that helps the geometry of the floor when the Kings offense bogs down or just want more spacers on the court.
Worst-case: The Kings' big man depth keeps Metu glued to the bench and he never carves out a consistent role in the rotation.
In Las Vegas, Metu struggled with shot selection and never got into a rhythm. That’s likely due to a role where he was the onlyplayer on the floor with a good amount of NBA experience.
It’s hard to see Metu taking those types of shots with superior players on the floor next to him, but if he were to continue that poor shot selection, it’s easy to see that affecting his playing time.
The most likely scenario for Metu is that he carves out a similar role as last season where he plays 10 to 15 minutes on nights when he’s in the rotation and then up to 20 to 25 depending on his play and the matchup.
If Metu is able to prove that his outside shooting is legitimate, he might be able to make a case as a guy that sees 20 plus minutes nightly, especially on a Kings team that lacks shooting from the big man spot.
It is going to be interesting to see how the Kings utilize Metu next season. He has a skillset that the Kings other big men don’t, but whether Luke Walton and the coaching staff feel compelled to use that skillset is another question.