The San Antonio Spurs would benefit from unleashing Chimezie Metu

CEDAR PARK, TX - NOVEMBER 8: Chimezie Metu #7 of the Austin Spurs shoots the ball against Isaiah Hartenstein #55 of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers during a NBA G-League game on November 8, 2019 (Photo by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)
CEDAR PARK, TX - NOVEMBER 8: Chimezie Metu #7 of the Austin Spurs shoots the ball against Isaiah Hartenstein #55 of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers during a NBA G-League game on November 8, 2019 (Photo by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Though limited in his opportunities, San Antonio Spurs forward/center Chimezie Metu could fill valuable minutes for the unsteady squad.

It’s no secret that the San Antonio Spurs are adept at scouting talent, especially when picking outside the lottery and into the second round. Selecting from the Pac-12 conference in three of the last five drafts, their most recent pick from the self-proclaimed ‘Conference of Champions’ was Nigerian big man Chimezie Metu of USC in 2018.

Though he didn’t do much for the main unit in his rookie year, Metu worked hard throughout the season to improve his defense, rebounding, footwork and jump shooting while working alongside the likes of Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge. As a result, Metu exceeded expectations in the 2019 FIBA World Cup for a feisty Nigerian national team this summer.

The 22-year-old has appeared in four games this season – three for the Spurs and one in Austin. Through a grand total of 14 minutes in the NBA, Metu has put up seven points on eight shots. While his percentages leave some to be desired, the young player hasn’t been given the proper opportunity to work through the kinks and get a feel for the league’s advanced competition.

San Antonio has had trouble defending the paint lately with center Jakob Poeltl struggling and forward Trey Lyles focusing primarily on rebounding. Having an athletic two-way athlete like Metu in the lineup could alleviate some of the Spurs’ issues near the basket while adding an exciting pick-and-roll option with floor spacing capability.

Chimezie Metu carving out a nice role on a veteran team in San Antonio @spurs — High energy performance tonight with 7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks tonight vs. Boston pic.twitter.com/grNmNARCBM

— Martin Bahar (@MShoneBahar) November 10, 2019

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Listed at 6-foot-9 with a ton of bounce, Metu is developing into an exciting faceup center with a ton of versatility and a distinct ability to hound the glass. His weakside presence could be very helpful for players like Aldridge and forward Rudy Gay who’ll track down their matchups on the way to the rack.

In his lone appearance for the Austin Spurs, Metu posted 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in only 19 minutes. He’s rising above his competition in the G League and taking on a leadership role amongst the younger players. This should warrant increased playing time, especially considering how his athleticism would impact San Antonio’s frontcourt.

It’s no secret that Gregg Popovich generally keeps his young players on a short leash, forcing them to work through their issues in the G League before ascending to the Spurs. However, times are changing and the Spurs are struggling with a .500 record through the first 10 games. San Antonio needs a jumpstart and tinkering with the lineup could help them to combat some of the athletic big men and floor spacers thrown at them this year.

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It’s not likely to see Metu’s minutes influx barring an injury, trade or rapid change of heart by Popovich, but he’s going to be an exciting player to follow through his development and insertion to San Antonio’s lineup.

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