San Antonio Spurs should let Chimezie Metu carve out a role in 2020

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San Antonio Spurs

OAKLAND, CA – FEBRUARY 6: Chimezie Metu #7 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Golden State Warriors on February 6, 2019 (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Playoffs are falling farther out of reach for the San Antonio Spurs, and second-year big man Chimezie Metu has been working his tail off in Austin.

Patience is a virtue, and few players exemplify it the way big man Chimezie Metu has since being drafted in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs last year. He’s only played a total of 202 minutes in the NBA in contrast with 1174 minutes played across 43-career G-League games.

It’s normal for players in San Antonio’s system to work their way up the rotation by paying dues in Austin, but Metu is nearing a point where he can contribute genuine NBA-caliber skills to the Spurs’ main rotation. As a “tweener,” meaning he’s not a true power forward or center but can play both positions, Metu is a fireball of energy who can bring some spunk to the Spurs’ bench.

Metu has played quite a bit of basketball since entering the NBA, representing Nigeria in the FIBA World Cup this summer and logging minutes in the Spurs’ Summer League for each of the last two seasons. For as much as San Antonio is helping him to develop his skills and become a quality rotation player in the NBA, they’re also wasting time by giving his minutes to lackluster veterans.

Starting center LaMarcus Aldridge is playing 33 minutes per game at 34-years-old, busting his behind on every play for a team that’s five games out from the eighth seed and eight games below .500. At a certain point, head coach Gregg Popovich needs to accept his team’s fate and start allocating more of the veteran’s minutes to young players.

He’s also doing so with Lonnie Walker IV, who is up to 18 minutes per game in his last 14. The team just bought out forward DeMarre Carroll and accepted that the veteran has no place on their roster, signaling that it’s probably time to let the young guys earn their keep.

If that ends up being the case, the first player to get an expanded role should be Metu.

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