CelticsBlog exit interview: Romeo Langford can overcome the growing pains

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NBA gamers are simply individuals on the finish of the day. Regardless of being athletically gifted and extremely devoted individuals, they nonetheless are topic to the identical guidelines of life similar to us.

After I was a child, I used to be all the time the smallest round. My dad was six ft tall, and I might lament the actual fact I by no means can be six ft tall myself. I bought made enjoyable of for being sluggish to develop. I bear in mind a child trying in my sleeve in seventh grade and laughing at myself for not having armpit hair.

I attempted out for about 20 journey baseball groups earlier than eighth grade and made zero. I simply wasn’t robust, quick or sufficiently big to make a distinction regardless of having a superb baseball I.Q. The worst half is, I knew they have been proper to disclaim me. It didn’t make sense to roster a child who might barely get the ball out of the infield, regardless of the actual fact I knew I had what it took mentally to be a superb defender and baserunner.

Photograph by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE by way of Getty Photographs

I hated being a late bloomer, however it gave me perspective. I noticed youngsters who shot up like weeds earlier than I misplaced all my child tooth, and I resented them. However, years later I used to be taller than them and all of it appeared so trivial. I needed to study that individuals all function on totally different timelines.

I see loads of tiny Michael in Romeo Langford. I can think about Langford is annoyed, lamenting the actual fact he’s needed to take care of accidents as a lot as he has whereas different rookies come into the league and immediately tear it up. It should be irritating to know that ultimately your day is coming, however it simply isn’t there but, additional irritating when sure setbacks are out of your management.

However, very similar to I outgrew the children who have been clearly on progress dietary supplements, Romeo has the potential to be the late bloomer of his draft class. Possibly in ten years he’ll be laughing on the days when he was the child with no armpit hair (metaphorically, after all).


Langford has been a “what if” participant for 2 years now. A particularly bodily gifted athlete, Langford has struggled to kind a stable sport outdoors of above-average perimeter protection and hustle. However, that isn’t solely his fault.

In two NBA seasons, Langford has solely appeared in 50 video games. His harm historical past is well-documented, however his youth evokes desires of a greater future. He turns 22 in October regardless of already spending two seasons on the Celtics’ roster.

Fortunately for Langford, the Celtics are transferring in a path which prioritizes two issues: controllable contracts and youth. He has each. The setbacks and room for progress have the Boston Celtics and Langford in a sport of hen, seeing if Langford will progress earlier than his coach-turned-GM Brad Stevens might want to transfer on. Fortunately for either side, Langford nonetheless has a 12 months left on his deal and a membership possibility in 2022.

It’s clear with the signing of Ime Udoka and the commerce for Al Horford that the Celtics wish to construct a contender for the long run round Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. If Langford can present enchancment below Udoka, his defensive skillset might complement the Jays for years to return. However with a view to be a helpful function participant Langford might want to take strides on offense, particularly a 3-point shot which might make him extraordinarily helpful as a 3-and-D wing.

Taking a look at Langford’s 2020-2021 season, it’s finest to separate it into three acts: the absence, the return and the finale.

Act I

Within the Orlando bubble, Langford tore a ligament in his wrist on Sept. 22. The restoration continued into the shortened COVID season, and Langford made his debut on April 4 in opposition to the Charlotte Hornets.

His absence was on the longer finish of the preliminary 3-6 month timeline, nearly precisely six months. As well as, he handled COVID-19, additional strengthening his case for “worst luck within the NBA.”

After over six months of rehabbing and coping with accidents/sickness, Langford lastly stepped again on the hardwood in Boston for a restricted common season return to motion.

Act II

As anticipated after a prolonged absence, Langford struggled initially. The rust was evident. On his first contact he stepped out of bounds within the nook for a fast turnover.

Instantly on the opposite finish although, Langford confirmed what he does finest when Hornets guard Devonte Graham tried to drive on him. Sequences of protection like this present what Langford might be on the defensive finish, a possible 1-4 stopper.

Graham thought he might get by Langford twice, however each occasions Romeo stayed in entrance and put a superb contest on a troublesome mid-range jumper. Regardless of a little bit of over-eagerness, Langford nonetheless made the quick-footed Graham’s life tougher.

This sequence is a microcosm of his season: struggling offensively, however making it again on the defensive finish.

An underrated facet of Langford’s sport was his offensive rebounding. One factor critics can’t knock Romeo for is his hustle. Persistently, when he noticed time, he was crashing the offensive boards with reckless abandon.

Main enchancment on offense would put Langford within the place to be receiving 25-Half-hour persistently, however with out enhancing on offense he stays a situational participant.

His finest offensive sport within the common season got here in Sport 72 in opposition to the New York Knicks, the place he scored a daily season excessive 14 factors, together with 4/6 taking pictures from the free throw line.

The massive distinction is his decisiveness. Watching Sport 1 and Sport 18 for Langford, viewers can see him attending to his spots quicker with improved confidence. That is an encouraging search for somebody who is basically a rookie, as he’ll (hopefully) attain 82 profession video games performed firstly of the 2021 season.

Along with elevated scoring, Langford made some good passes in opposition to the Knicks, the league’s finest defensive crew. His anticipation and creativity have been on show because the Celtics rested their starters.

Working in pick-and-roll, Langford attracts consideration and finds the rolling Grant Williams with an ideal bounce move. It received’t simply take higher taking pictures for Langford to realize respect offensively, however elevated playmaking as nicely. Having to respect Langford’s passing will open up midrange pull up seems to be transferring ahead.

General, whereas Langford statistically didn’t present a lot progress all through his eighteen video games within the common season, he was extra assured and decisive, which bodes nicely transferring ahead.

Act III

As Jaylen Brown missed time together with his personal wrist harm, Langford noticed elevated motion within the Celtics’ first spherical collection vs. the Brooklyn Nets. Langford drew the robust activity of guarding Kyrie Irving and James Harden on the perimeter, whereas needing to supply some offense as nicely.

In his 4 playoff video games, Langford performed 18, 27, 25 and 37 minutes in Video games 2-5 respectively. Along with the defensive effort, Romeo turned it up within the playoffs, particularly on the offensive glass. In every of his playoff video games, Langford had a minimum of one offensive rebound. In Sport 3 he had two offensive boards, six whole.

His finest efficiency offensively was Sport 5, when he scored 17 on 7-of-12 taking pictures n 37 minutes. He additionally hit three 3-pointers, a profession excessive. Every of his threes got here from the nook, and two have been assisted by Jayson Tatum, who was drawing 2-3 defenders more often than not.

Regardless of most of those threes being open seems to be, Langford was fast to tug the set off and made good on half of his precise makes an attempt (one three was a 56-foot heave). On this collection, Langford flashed what his potential might be as a 3-and-D wing, particularly in Sport 5.

Along with the elevated offense in Sport 5, Langford put the clamps on defensively… as a lot as potential when going through James Harden.

Regardless of giving up some layups, Langford was continually on Harden, generally for the total size of the court docket. There have been occasions Brooklyn needed to display screen him twice to get him to change off Harden.

The block on Harden, one of the vital lethal slashers in NBA historical past, exhibits Langford is already an above-average NBA defender. His Sport 5 efficiency was nice, however with a view to hold his spot within the rotation, Langford will want extra taking pictures like Sport 5 and the identical degree of defensive depth, evening in and evening out.

Epilogue

Shifting ahead, Langford initiatives to be within the rotation firstly of the 2022 season. He matches as a backup wing behind Brown and Tatum, almost definitely as somebody to usher in for perimeter protection alongside a weaker defensive again court docket pairing.

Becoming him in alongside Payton Pritchard and Jaylen Brown with Tatum off the court docket looks like a pure match. He received’t be anticipated to do a lot offensively, however can take the lead ball handler on the opposite finish at occasions, giving Brown some relaxation on protection.

On the finish of the day, his function relies on him and him solely. Regardless of seeing dangerous luck come his method in his first two seasons, he must develop offensively to pressure Boston into bringing him again. If Langford may even change into a constant 30-35% three level shooter, he shall be a spectacular match alongside the Celtics’ duo of the long run.



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