After a strong showing in his first scrimmage game in Orlando, I think it’s time for Brad Stevens to reward Romeo Langford with some more playing time moving forward.
Langford has been dealing with a handful of injuries since being drafted by the Boston Celtics last summer. He came in recovering from a thumb injury he got while at Indiana and suffered knee and ankle injuries throughout the season. He was never able to secure a consistent role off the bench for the team but still had his bright spots throughout the year when given the opportunity.
In 27 games, he only started once against Orlando, and although his stats didn’t jump off the page, he had a pretty solid showing. He finished with only six points but excelled on the defensive end. He was asked to guard Evan Fournier, who was averaging 18.7 points per game at the time. He defended him for 15 partial possessions and held him to just two points and one assist. He then had to guard Terrance Ross, who finished with zero points on 0-2 shooting when guarded by Langford. He ended the night with a 100 defensive rating, which was the third-lowest in the game for players who played more than 20 minutes.
He one-upped his performance the next game against Atlanta. In 29 minutes, Langford finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Not only can Langford make an impact on the defensive end, but the 6’4 guard has shown promise of becoming a reliable scorer for the Celtics.
His jumpshot has been a cause for concern since he’s entered the league, but that’s because of the thumb injury he suffered while playing at Indiana. Langford tore ligaments in his right thumb during the first month of his college career. Despite the damage to his hand, he continued to play for most of the season and averaged 16.5 points in 32 games. His shooting percentages suffered because of the injury (45/27 splits) but he was still selected with the 14th overall pick by Danny Ainge and the Celtics.
Langford was once considered a top prospect coming out of high school, and his injury derailed him from being drafted higher than he was. Ainge saw the potential and took a shot on him. It’s taken him some time to clean up his jumper and get it back to its normal form, but now his shot is looking cleaner and much improved.
What’s so special about Langford is not only can he be a threat on the offensive end, but he can be a bigger threat on the defensive end. The scary thing is that he’s already a threat on defense. Langford had a defensive rating of 56.7 in 12 minutes yesterday against Phoenix, which was the best of anyone on the court. In case you didn’t know, Langford’s defensive rating of 102.1 leads the entire team. The kid isn’t even of the legal age to drink, but yet he’s leading a championship-contending team in defensive rating. That’s not something we should be sleeping on.
After finishing the scrimmage with 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists, it may be time for Brad Stevens to play Langford more often. He can come off the bench and even get some run with the starters. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands or has to shoot a ton of shots to be effective. His defensive presence alone allows him to fit in with any lineup. Moving forward, we might be seeing a lot more from Langford.
Now that Langford is healthy, he can be a huge x-factor for Boston. Opposing teams haven’t had to focus on him much during the regular season, but he could stir up some trouble if he starts to see consistent minutes off the bench. Throw that in with a little Tremont Waters, and the Celtics bench can be revived entirely for the playoffs.
Boston fans may not have been a fan of the Romeo Langford selection in last year’s draft, but soon they’ll be thanking Danny Ainge for selecting him where he did. I know I was a fan of Romeo right out of the gate. I knew he just needed some time to get back to where he was before his injury.
This kid can be a difference-maker for the team, and we might become witnesses to that sooner rather than later.
Photo: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer