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Chimezie Metu – 6’11” Power Forward/Center, USC, 21 Years Old
Chimezie Metu is an athletic big man projected to go in the late first or the early second round of the 2018 NBA Draft. Metu can be seen as a wild card prospect heading into the draft process given his high ceiling but somewhat inconsistent level of production at the college level.
Metu was recruited by USC out of nearby Lawndale High School in 2015. He became a focal point in the Trojans best three-year period of men’s basketball in program history. This season, Metu averaged 15.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game. This helped lead the Trojans to their first Pac-12 Championship game since 2009. Metu showed steady growth over his three years at USC, which included him winning the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player Award in 2017.
Boasting a rare combination of size and athleticism, Metu has the ability to affect the game in a number of different ways at both ends of the floor. At the offensive end, he has shown great improvement with his game.
Metu possesses post moves and even developed a mid-range jumper which he shot with confidence in his junior year at USC. Given his mobility, he can beat his man down the floor more often than not leading to some easy buckets in transition. He has also proved his ability to work effectively in pick and roll sets with skilled ball handler Jordan McLaughlin. This resulted in numerous lobs for dunks above the rim.
Defensively, Metu anchored a USC defense that ranked at or near the top in many of the Pac-12 Conference’s team defensive stat categories this season. He is a very good defensive rebounder. His length gives him the ability to block or alter shots in the lane. Despite a relatively lean frame, he has deceptive strength on the interior which allows him to hold his own in the low post. Metu also possesses solid lateral quickness that allows him to switch out and contain smaller guards.
Even when his offensive game is not clicking, Metu maintains his intensity which will at the very least make him a valuable defensive asset as part of a second unit in the pros.
Inconsistency with Metu’s offensive productivity was his biggest downfall in 2018. At times, Metu was impossible to guard on the low block. Using his go-to spin move to set up an effortless right-handed baby hook shot. But there were also stretches of games where Metu wasn’t all that visible offensively. Metu never quite turned into the complete offensive force in the paint that he was expected to be this season for USC.
Additionally, Metu did little to impress in terms of rebounding. Despite averaging north of 7 boards per game, Metu didn’t stand out as a dominant force on the offensive glass. His frontcourt partner, Nick Rakocevic, was much more of a factor for USC. This was puzzling considering that his height and leaping ability allows him to jump over the top of his opponents at the college level. Metu can also at times be a little overzealous contesting shot attempts. This leads to some needless fouls and goaltends. However, the risk-reward nature of Metu’s defensive style of play can lead to big-time blocks sparking fast breaks the other way.
Metu’s raw tools give him a very high NBA ceiling. However, his inconsistent offensive output in college has raised questions about whether he’ll ever be able to reach those heights. Several factors suggest he will be able to progress over time at that end of the floor.
For one, Metu has had the advantage of playing under Trojans Head Coach Andy Enfield’s up-tempo, pro-style offence which has prepared him well for the NBA game. Another factor is that his above-average quickness and athletic ability will allow him to keep up with the league’s ever-increasing emphasis on pace. Finally, Metu has also proven his eagerness and commitment to hone his game, as evidenced by the introduction this past season of the aforementioned mid-range jumper, as well as the progression of his baby hook shot which looked more and more automatic over the course of the year.
These advantages, along with declaring for the draft as a junior and has also graduated having completed his degree in three years, should give Metu a leg up on many of the other draft prospects in terms of acclimating himself to an NBA locker room. At a minimum, however, Metu should become a very good rim protector defensively and a capable pick-and-roll big man at the offensive end.
NBA Player Comparison
With an abundance of size and athleticism in the middle, Metu’s game has many similarities to Houston Rockets center Clint Capela. This is especially true in the two-man game, which Capela has perfected with James Harden and Chris Paul much the same way Metu did with McLaughlin. Capela and Metu also both share excellent shot-blocking instincts, although Metu is not nearly as dynamic of an offensive rebounder.
With some time to develop, Metu can use Capela’s progression as a model to become a versatile two-way big man who can work effectively in pick and roll sets, while having the upside to potentially create for himself in the low post at some point down the line.
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