After a rookie season spent bouncing between Austin and San Antonio, Chimezie Metu got the chance to play for the Nigerian national team at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Last summer we saw the Warriors Klay Thompson embrace his alter ego as #ChinaKlay. China Klay was loved by the people, had fun embarrassing himself, and was an all-around good time. Very Klay Thompson.
This summer we’re seeing another NBA player embrace his time in China but in a different way. Chimezie Metu is making the most of his time playing with the Nigerian national team at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. We’re seeing the rise of #ChinaChimezie.
Alongside NBA players like Al-Farouq Aminu, Josh Okogie, and Ekpe Udoh, Metu has shown off parts of his game that were not there when Spurs fans last saw him.
In an early matchup with Argentina, Metu would finish with 9 points, 4 rebounds, and one assist. Three of his points would come from when Metu froze his defender with a quick jab step before cashing in on the long ball.
That doesn’t look like the player who shot a mere 22% from deep with the Austin Spurs. If Metu can continue to build on his three-point shot he could become a valuable asset for a Spurs team that could use more versatile forwards.
— Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) September 6, 2019
The above clip is absolutely ridiculous. A behind the back, mid-air assist is not at all what I was expecting Metu to add to his arsenal over the summer but I love to see it. Should Spurs fans expect to see Metu break this out on a regular basis or become the next Magic Johnson? Probably not. But seeing him have the confidence to both attempt and pull off a move like that in an international competition is a very encouraging sign.
Chimezie Metu won’t have guaranteed playing time with San Antonio this season. With the draft day additions of Luka Samanic and free-agency acquisitions, DeMarre Carrol and Trey Lyles, the depth chart ahead of Metu is daunting.
However, if Metu can continue to build on his progress last season, and it looks like he has, there is no reason he cannot capitalize on some late-game minutes and continue to develop in the G-League.
When the Spurs drafted Metu it was clear he was going to take some time to develop into a dependable NBA player, it looks like that time may be coming sooner rather than later.