Sacramento Kings Season In Review: Chimezie Metu

Apr 15, 2022, 11:02 AM | Updated: 11:10 am
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 08: Chimezie Metu #7 of the Sacramento Kings celebrates with the ...
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

When you look back at Chimezie Metu’s 2021-22 season, it was quite the rollercoaster.

Usually, when you say an NBA player had a “rollercoaster” season, you’re probably implying that a player had an inconsistent season. Metu’s season was inconsistent in many ways, but not necessarily in the box score.

Most of the inconsistencies surrounding Metu were surrounding the forward’s playing time.

Metu concluded the 2020-21 season on a high note, averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds on 48-percent shooting from the field and 37-percent from downtown over the final 16 games.

As a very short-handed Kings that was without the services of De’Aaron Fox (COVID-19), Tyrese Haliburton (knee), and Harrison Barnes (adductor strain) scratched and clawed for a Play-In spot, Metu was one of the team’s primary contributors during the final weeks of play.

However, when the 2021-22 season began, Metu found himself buried on the bench and did not play at all during Sacramento’s first eight games.

Once Metu was finally inserted into the rotation on November 5th, it didn’t take long for then-head coach Luke Walton to insert the former USC product into the starting lineup.

Metu’s playing time would go on to fluctuate at an unpredictable rate throughout the majority of the regular season.

For some stretches, Metu would start each night and play upwards of 20 minutes or more. Other stretches–sometimes immediately following those starts–he wouldn’t play at all.

It seemed as if Walton and interim head coach Alvin Gentry struggled to find a clear role for Metu, which makes sense when you look at the forward’s game log.

Which role best suits Metu? Starter? Seventh or eighth man? Out of the rotation completely?

Here’s how Metu’s 2021-22 season panned out in each scenario:

Entire Season

  • 60 games
  • 8.9 PTS
  • 5.6 REB
  • 1.0 AST
  • 0.9 STL
  • 0.5 BLK
  • 45% FG
  • 30% 3PT
  • 78% FT
  • 21.3 MIN

(Bold/italic font = career-high)

By Role

  • Starter (20 games): 10.2 PTS, 6.9 REB, 1.3 AST, 42% FG, 22% 3PT, 25.9 MIN
  • Reserve (40 games): 8.3 PTS, 4.9 REB, 0.9 AST, 47% FG, 36% 3PT, 19.0 MIN

By Minutes

  • 30+ minutes (7 games): 14.0 PTS, 8.9 REB, 1.4 AST, 49% FG, 16% 3PT, 33.5 MIN
  • 20-29 minutes (30 games): 9.8 PTS, 6.3 REB, 1.1 AST, 44% FG, 32% 3PT, 23.5 MIN
  • 0-19 minutes (23 games): 6.1 PTS, 3.6 REB, 0.6 AST, 44% FG, 32% 3PT, 14.3 MIN

From an eye test, Metu seemed to be a more efficient player when used in that 20-29 minute range off of the bench.

At his best, Metu is a lengthy wing that possesses the ability to rebound at an above-average clip (9.4 rebounds per 36 minutes) and act as a bucket-getter that won’t shy away from firing off open-to-moderately open looks.

Metu’s points of interest on his shot-chart:

  • 38% from the right-corner three this season (Hello, Mavs buzzer-beater)
  • 49% from three-to-10 feet away from the basket
  • 71% at the rim

At times, it seemed as if Metu would force on the offensive end, especially after the team traded away its leading bench scorer in Buddy Hield.

Offensive production from the second unit was lacking following the Kings-Pacers trade, and Metu did his best to carry the load following the shake-up.

From February 8th (the day of the trade) through the end of the season, Metu averaged 9.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 0.7 steals per game on a very efficient 52-percent shooting from the field, 39-percent from three-point range and 85-percent from the free-throw line.

Over those 23 games, Metu averaged 20.1 minutes of playing time. To me, this is the exact role that a player like Metu should be used in, one that allows him to get consistent rotation minutes in a setting where he can get off six-to-eight field goal attempts.

Metu’s presence on offense changed during the final months, and it was noticeable. He played smart and within his game, limiting himself to just 1.1 turnovers per game during that 22-game stretch while cutting down on errant or forced field goal attempts.

The 6’9, 225-pound Metu turned into a consistent lob threat for the Kings offense in March and April, as we got several looks at his impressive athleticism during his time on the floor.

An athletic, lob-threat wing with the ability to knock down open looks from the perimeter isn’t a bad weapon to have in your arsenal.

Sacramento–or other NBA teams–will surely take notice of the forward’s solid play to end the season when it becomes decision-making time for next season’s rosters.

Will Chimezie Metu Return In 2022-23?

During the final stretch of the season, Metu arguably played the best basketball of his career in a reserve role. Was it enough to secure a spot on next season’s team?

Metu’s $1.9 million contract for 2022-23 isn’t guaranteed, meaning that Kings general manager Monte McNair has some decisions to make this summer.

Sacramento already will have to decide on forward Trey Lyles’ $2.6 million team option for next season and contemplate if they want to make a run at retaining unrestricted free-agent center Damian Jones.

As of now, the Kings have nine guaranteed contracts on the books for 2022-23. The team will likely retain guard Donte DiVincenzo in restricted free agency and a guaranteed deal for rookie center Neemias Queta will assuredly be discussed this summer.

Will McNair look to upgrade the bench forward slot and move on from Metu?

It’s tough to say. To me, the Kings’ most-pressing needs are at the starting shooting guard and power forward positions. In order to fill those important roles, we could see some interesting roster tweaks.

The fact that Metu’s potential deal is for $1.9 million bodes well for a return, but we’ll have to see what McNair and the front office have up their sleeves for the big moves first.

As is the case with Lyles, you could do a lot worse with Chimezie Metu as a deep-bench option.


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