What to look for in Romeo Langford’s Celtics debut


All the Celtics rookies have had a chance to prove themselves in some form or fashion so far. Whether it was the NBA Summer League or Sunday’s preseason game against the Hornets, Carsen Edwards, Grant Williams, Tremont Waters, Max Strus and, of course, Tacko Fall have shown what they can do.

That is, everyone except Romeo Langford, who the Celtics took with their first pick (No. 14 overall) in this year’s NBA Draft.

Langford missed summer league to recover from surgery on his right thumb. Then he was held out of 5-on-5 play in Celtics training camp because he tweaked his groin. But now he’s about to get his shot on Friday in Orlando, with Brad Stevens telling reporters everyone will be available against the Magic.

“It’s my first time playing in a real game in a long time,” Langford told reporters. “I’m just ready to get out there. It’s going to be a real good time.”

For those who aren’t avid Indiana Hoosiers fans and are unfamiliar with Langford’s game, here are a few things to look for from the Celtics rookie on Friday:

Attacking the rim

Langford’s greatest strength is his ability to get to the basket. And he does so effortlessly.

Now, this is a player who, at one point during 2018-19, was considered a possible top-five pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. So if getting to the rim is what he’s best at, expect him to try to do so more than anything else.

The major obstacle for him will be making the jump from college to NBA defenders, as is the case with most rookies. But his style of play could make things more challenging for him as opposed to someone like Edwards.

The game may not allow for as much physicality these days, but facing stronger defenders will still be an adjustment for the 19-year-old.

“He’s just one of those guys that — he’s got touch,” Stevens said during training camp. “He knows how to score the ball. He’s a good player. He’s a good player and the game comes easy to him.”

Meshing with the defense

When Stevens was asked during training camp about Langford’s potential on the defensive end, he first mentioned how the rookie is a “versatile, long, athletic guy.” Exactly his type of player.

Stevens also expressed Langford “understands system, he understands playing together,” having played for Archie Miller briefly at Indiana.

This will be a big jump on the defensive end, not having played since he was back in college. But if Langford understands team defense as well as Stevens says, we should get an idea of what he’s capable of in the game against the Magic.

Long-range shooting

Shooting is not Langford’s strength.

While it’s great he played through his injury for his Indiana teammates, it’s hard to further develop your shot when constantly dealing with a hand issue. And his shot still had plenty of room to grow prior to the thumb injury.

Langford’s spent a deal of time working on his three-point shooting in practice. With this being his first bit of NBA action, he may have jitters, particularly when it comes to shooting. But that doesn’t mean this won’t be something worth examining.

A better look at Romeo Langford’s shot. pic.twitter.com/buqrgxtSRN

— Nick Friar (@Nick_Friar) October 4, 2019