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Suns Free Agency: Chimezie Metu reinforces trend of length among new additions

Four additions from day 1, four long defenders

Milwaukee Bucks v Sacramento Kings Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It was a pretty great opening day in free agency for James Jones and the Phoenix Suns when you consider the cap restrictions they were forced to work around. One player who can’t get lost in the chaos of a busy day is Chimezie Metu.

Longstanding Valley basketball fans may remember when Metu starred at USC from 2015-18, averaging 15.2 points (53.7% FG) and 7.6 rebounds in 31.2 minutes over his final two seasons there. It was good enough to earn the 49th selection by the San Antonio Spurs in 2018.

Metu only played in 47 games over two seasons as a Spur, but he started to find his NBA footing with the Sacramento Kings in the three years that followed. In Sac-town, he’s ballooned from 23.5 appearances per season as a Spur to 54.0 as a King. All three of his Kings seasons were his top three seasons in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.

As a member of the third seed in the Western Conference last season, he averaged 4.9 points (58.9% FG), and 3.0 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game. Extracted out to per-36 minute numbers to show a larger sample size reference point, those numbers looked like 16.8 points and 10.3 rebounds.

Metu measured in at 6’9-plus with a 7’0-plus wingspan at his Draft Combine in 2018, weighing in then at 219.6 pounds and is now listed at 225 pounds. Each of the four day one additions are at least 6’8 with at least a 6’10 wingspan. Length and defensive promise have been clear priorities for James Jones early on.

So we know he brings a lot of length and size, but he also has flashed versatility from time to time as well, showing some skilled face-up action here:

He had a chance to showcase that last summer in the FIBA World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers when he starred for Team Nigeria along with newly-re-upped Suns wing Josh Okogie. There, Metu, who is listed at 6’11 on FIBA’s website, averaged 16.8 points (44.3% FG, 31.4% on 7.0 3PA) and 9.8 rebounds with 1.4 steals in 33.2 minutes as Nigeria came up short of qualifying.

This gives me a chance to touch on this summer’s World Cup starting at the end of August really quickly—

While it seems that Devin Booker will take the summer off after starring next to newly-retired-from-FIBA-play Kevin Durant in the Tokyo Olympics, Team USA will still feature Suns favorites Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. The only representation from current Suns in the World Cup will be Yuta Watanabe playing for Team Japan sans Rui Hachimura. Jock Landale is set to suit up again for Australia, but he is currently Suns-less.

Metu likely lands closer to the bottom of the rotation than the other new additions, but he still checks a box the Suns needed to check: depth. Plus, having guys in the 11-15 range that you can rely on can be just as important as guys in the 6-10 range, especially when injuries start to play a factor over the course of 82 games — and they will.

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