We have heard it plenty before the preseason began and there are still rumblings that the Phoenix Suns depth might be an issue. After three preseason games, we know that is not true. It is just preseason, but the Suns depth has shown up in many ways at every position.
At the center position, after you run through Jusuf Nurkic and Drew Eubanks, who is next? I am seeing a lot of good things in Chimezie Metu as a stretch five that can also play the four. But honestly, I don’t really know where you play him, because he looks so dang good on the court and passes the eye test almost every time down the floor on the offensive side of the ball.
Metu did not start to see heavier minutes until he arrived in Sacramento playing for the Kings. In his second season with in Sac Town, his minutes rose from 13.6 to 21.3 per-game, giving himself the opportunity to prove what he can bring to the court.
In an exit interview after the Kings’ season, which ended at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, Metu wanted more of an opportunity to prove himself.
Now is his chance.
You can already see here in Phoenix that he sticks out. In a preseason filled with unfamiliar faces in Suns uniforms, Metu is making a name for himself. In 20.1 minutes through three games, he is averaging 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. Not known as a three-point savant, he has shot 44.4% from deep.
Upon acquiring him via free agency, I didn’t know what to expect from Metu. The only thing I knew was that he was someone that was going to make himself known. I just didn’t know how long it would take to get know him. Already, now I know.
Metu seems to have a “chill” demeanor. No, it’s not a term you use often to describe the basketball skillset of a player, but from a body language standpoint, that is what he is. Chill. Calm, cool, and collected wherever he is on the court. Tending to keep a flow going on offense and giving the Suns hope when the third stringers are on the floor.
Keeping an eye out with this nice touch on the bounce pass to Yuta Watanabe, Metu is always looking and trying to make the right play.
Slick bounce pass by Chimezie Metu pic.twitter.com/mgG0Z85KEG— Ace of Basketball (@AcedEsperance) October 13, 2023
We saw this from Nurkic against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night where he would wait for the cut, setting up (mostly) Kevin Durant, on a few slick plays, leading to easy baskets. Winning plays.
This is a small sample size, of course, but you can feel the connectivity already between Metu and Yuta. Chimezie instinctively knows his game and patiently waits for the cut. He is patient and you can just feel him gracefully owning the court at times, seeing what the defense will give him.
Metu and Yuta will likely evolve into something fun coming off the bench this season.
It’s not just the three-point percentage that looks good, it is the way he is shooting them. He shoots it with such a flow for the game, and a nice touch on the release, making you think every attempt will fall. He is square to the cylinder and shoots with a confidence that Landry Shamet never did.
He has a nice pull up shop from beyond the arc that is like Devin Booker, although not nearly as dangerous. It is, however, just as confident.
Speaking of confidence. Sinking two free throws to put the Suns up for was 9.5 seconds left against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday shows just that.
It is just preseason as we keep saying, but the Suns’ bench knows that every player sitting next to them is as competitive as the next. There is a trust that I sense with Metu and it might just be a feeling. But with a small sample size of his preseason, he has hit on nearly all cylinders to make him an efficient role player off the bench.
Metu wants any and every opportunity he can get.
What have you seen from the USC alum? Where do you see Metu fitting in with this team this upcoming season?