Naz Mitrou-Long 2019-20 Season Highlights

Check out some of the top plays from Naz Mitrou-Long's 2019-20 season.

Naz Mitrou-Long 2020 Player Review

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Naz Mitrou-Long 2019-20 Season Highlights

Check out some of the top plays from Naz Mitrou-Long's 2019-20 season.
Sep 8, 2020  |  00:54

Player Review 2020: Naz Mitrou-Long

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Age: 27
Years Pro: 3
Status: Free agent.
Key Stats: Appeared in five games with the Pacers, averaging 2.8 points and 1.6 assists in 9.4 minutes per game. Played in 14 games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA G League, averaging 13.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per contest.

Since the inception of the two-way contract prior to the 2017-18 season, NBA teams have used the slot in a variety of ways. Just look at how the Pacers deployed their two-way spots this season.

Indiana used one slot for Brian Bowen II, a young forward with potential but limited experience that they hoped could continue to develop with regular reps against G League competition. But for their other two-way deal, the Pacers inked Naz Mitrou-Long, an experienced point guard capable of providing backcourt insurance should the NBA team be hit with a rash of injuries.

Sure enough, Mitrou-Long's number was called this season, and he rose to the challenge.

For a two-game stretch a little under a month into the season, the Pacers were down five guards, as Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, Victor Oladipo, T.J. McConnell, and Edmond Sumner were all out with injuries. As a result, Indiana started brothers Aaron and Justin Holiday in the backcourt, but also called up Mitrou-Long from Fort Wayne and moved him into the rotation as the lone backup guard.

The Iowa State alum performed admirably given the circumstances on Nov. 16 against Milwaukee, logging 14 minutes off the bench and collecting two points, three rebounds, and three assists. But he was brilliant two nights later in Brooklyn.

Mitrou-Long provided a major spark against the Nets, scoring nine points in under eight minutes in the second quarter. He finished with 12 points in 26 minutes on 5-of-10 shooting, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal in a 115-86 blowout that turned out to be the Blue & Gold's biggest winning margin all season.

PHOTO GALLERY: Naz Mitrou-Long's 2019-20 Season in Photos »

Moments like that are precisely why the Pacers signed Mitrou-Long. The 6-3 guard has the experience to step in to the lineup if needed. He turned 27 in August, spent five years at Iowa State, was on a two-way contract for two seasons in Utah, and has trained with the Canadian national team.

That's a lot of experience, but it also could make some players feel entitled, like they deserve better than having to wear out I-69 shuttling back and forth between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

Not Mitrou-Long, however.

"Just stay ready," Mitrou-Long said of his approach to his role. "If my number is called it's called, if it's not I'm still on the bench cheering guys on, getting guys water...If a guy goes down, I'll be ready. If we can be at full strength, that's when we're at our best, so I'm just going to be part of the team and continue to root."

Naz Mitrou-Long playing for Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Mitrou-Long's season with the Mad Ants was hampered somewhat by injuries as well as the abrupt ending to the G League season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He appeared in 14 games with Fort Wayne, where he averaged 13.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.9 assists.

In his limited time in the G League last season, Mitrou-Long proved himself capable of being a primary scorer (he had games with 26, 27, and 28 points) or playing more of an all-around game (registering two triple-doubles).

He also was there alongside Bowen, helping guide the young forward through his first season on a two-way deal.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for Mitrou-Long. He could get another two-way deal again this offseason, whether it is in Indiana or elsewhere. He will probably have offers to play overseas. Perhaps his experience would be enough to entice a team to offer him an NBA roster spot as a third point guard.

But wherever Mitrou-Long winds up next season, he will no doubt handle his role with class and professionalism and be ready for whenever his number is called, just like he was last season for the Pacers.

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