CAMDEN, N.J. -- Anybody in the Sixers’ facility during Saturday morning’s early session could hear Naz Long. It was just three-on-three in a pre-draft workout, but Long was in command — not necessarily with his play, but with his voice.
“I’m a leader on and off the court,” Long said.
Apparently so. Paired with Vanderbilt center Luke Kornet and a Sixers assistant after two prospects went out with injuries, Long was vocal on the court. “Good shot big fella,” he shouted in encouragement when Kornet drained a three from the top of the key and then faked a defender into a fly-by for an easy layup the next possession.
Long’s trip to Camden was his 11th such pre-draft workout with an NBA team. He hopes to have 14 in total before next Thursday’s fateful day. Still, the fifth-year senior out of Iowa State took time last week — when he’s trying to make his case to find a home in the world’s best basketball league — to host a youth camp in Ames. That’s just the leader he is.
The competitive spirit is a plus, but it’ll take more than that for Long to get drafted. He’s not on DraftExpress’ list of the top 100 prospects. He’ll be 24 in August and missed the 2015-2016 season with a hip injury. Long, who during his time at Iowa State went by Naz Mitrou-Long, the last names of each of his parents, hasn’t been a star. The Cyclones had other guys to fill that role. This year, it was Monte Morris. Georges Niang carried the load before him. But Long can shoot it. He’s been a vital three-and-D guy, with a lot of emphasis on the three.
“I’m not overly athletic or freakishly long or anything like that," Long, listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, said, "so I have to do the little things.”
With someone like Ben Simmons (or Markelle Fultz) running the one, Long said he could see himself playing a role similar to that of Patrick Beverley on the Rockets. Beverley, also undersized, moves to the two when James Harden operates at the point.
Long hit 98 threes on 38.4 percent shooting from deep as a senior. Six of them came in a massive win at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse, snapping a 51-game home win streak for the Jayhawks. But perhaps this fun fact stands out: Long’s career high came against Drake with 37 points and eight threes at Wells Fargo Arena. If he can shoot like that in venues named for Wells Fargo, he’s surely welcome in Philadelphia any time.
All jokes aside, he stroked his jumper nicely during shooting drills Friday. He alternated with SMU’s Sterling Brown and fared better than his fellow two-guard. Long got the sense that he could do the same should he get a shot with the team this summer.
“We just got done talking to coach, and (I would) just reiterate his principles — defense, space and pace,” Long said. “I think I’m the perfect player for that. I play defense. I knock down threes and I can space the floor when needed or I can create for others.
“I’m a tough-nosed guard.”