Philadelphia 76ers Sign Blossoming Big Man Shawn Long to a Multi-Year Deal

Sep 26, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Shawn Long (36) during media day at the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Shawn Long (36) during media day at the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

After a promising start to his NBA career the Philadelphia 76ers have rewarded 24 year old big man Shawn Long with a multi-year deal.

The Philadelphia 76ers roster has been in a near constant state of flux since the trade deadline came and went. After having to waive guard Chasson Randle to free up a roster spot for Andrew Bogut (a piece the Sixers absorbed in their trade of Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks), the team has been hit with a rapid stream of bad luck, with Jahlil Okafor, Richard Holmes, Robert Covington and Gerald Henderson all finding their names on the injury report.

After playing a game with only 9 active players, the team signed Justin Harper and Shawn Long to add depth to a depleted team. Though Harper ultimately failed to make an impression on the team, the same cannot be said for Long.

Shawn Long has been an intriguing Sixers prospect for some time. After spending 4 years at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Shawn signed with the Philadelphia 76ers as an undrafted free agent following the 2016 NBA draft. Though he showed promise in the summer league, Long was simply too raw a player to make the 76ers 15-man roster and was waived before the season began.

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The team retained his D-League rights and Shawn Long became the starting center for the Delaware 87ers. In his 39 games as an 87er, Shawn averaged 20.2 points and 11.1 rebounds in 29.5 minutes per game. Named a D-League All-Star, Long was soon called up by the 76ers to fill an injury exception roster spot.

After being called up on March 6, Shawn Long has appeared in 3 of a possible 4 games and averaged 4.8 point and 3.3 rebounds per game in 7.8 minutes per game. While these numbers surely aren’t All-Star caliber, it is a promising start.

In his first game as a 76er, Long scored 13 points and pulled in 7 rebounds as the team’s backup center. He also showed his versatility by logging minutes at power forward in the 76ers’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Though Shawn struggled both offensively and defensively playing against all-pro forward Draymond Green in the 76ers recent loss against the Golden State Warriors, his willingness to continue to press should be commended.

It’s incredibly difficult and extremely rare for a young player to join a team mid-season and become an immediate contributor. Without the time to build chemistry with teammates or learn his new team’s playbook, players like Shawn Long are often forced to sink or swim based purely off of raw talent. Though his success seems rather modest when compared to Yogi Ferrell’s meteoric rise with the Dallas Mavericks, Long has shown versatility and promise in his short stint with the 76ers.

In his first four games, Long’s stats have been very comparable to those put up by current 76er Richaun Holmes during his rookie season. Long has averaged 1 less point and 1 more rebound then Richaun did in his rookie season so far, in half of the minutes. In Richaun’s second season as a pro he was able to increase his minutes per game, points per game, rebounds per game and 3-point percentage by noticeable margin compared to his rookie season, and it is totally possible that Shawn’s numbers could see a similar bump in his second season.

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In only four games with the team, Shawn Long has cemented his place on the 76ers roster for at least the remainder of the season. Even Brett Brown has expressed an interest in signing Long to a second 10-day contract. While a member of the 76ers, Chasson Randle averaged 5.3 points per game in 9.3 minutes, which was good enough for the 76ers to offer him a multi-year deal.

Long’s numbers are remarkably similar to those put up by Chasson, but unlike Chasson, Shawn Long brings additional flexibility to the 76ers roster. Though he has only scored double digits once in his short career as a 76er, his position, flexibility and willingness to contribute regardless of his minutes, should be commended.

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Even though the 76ers have chosen to use Robert Covington as Dario Saric’s primary backup, having a player like Long who can play either power forward or center in a pinch is incredibly valuable when only 13 players are eligible to play on any given night. While he is still a work in progress and could use extra practice at the free-throw line, Long has proven that he can score from all three levels, and is a willing defender who can pull in rebounds on a consistent basis.While he may never be a world beater, Shawn Long has earned the opportunity to showcase his talents for the remainder of the season in the NBA, and could serve an even bigger role next season.