When it comes to Romeo Langford, Jayson Tatum sums it almost perfectly.
“He’s super talented,” Tatum said. “We’ve all seen it in practice.”
And the last part of Tatum’s quote is where the problem was with Langford. He did all his work in practice as Celtics fans started to grow aggravated that using the No. 14 overall pick in this past NBA Draft on Langford didn’t net more immediate results. There were the whispers already that the pick was a waste with Langford spending a majority of this season either injured or with Boston’s G-League affiliate the Maine Red Claws.
But the 6-foot-4 rookie shooting guard, who had to overcome various injuries to begin his professional career including a couple sprained ankles, is starting to flash the potential that comes with being a lottery pick by now doing his work in NBA games rather than practice.
The 20-year-old Langford received extended playing time in the last two games with his play drowning out the murmurs that he was a bust, especially in Sunday’s 119-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets, when Langford displayed he can be a valuable asset not just in the future, but the present by scoring eight points on 3-of-6 shooting to go along with four rebounds in 23 minutes.
“It feels good to be able to play basketball again and not have to be on the sideline in a dress coat and watching them play,” said Langford, who has seen action for the Celtics in just four games this season. “I’m just happy and blessed that I’m able to play now and just got to keep taking care of my body and take it day by day.”
For Langford, there was a lot made about his much maligned shot in his only year at Indiana University, where he made a less than inspiring 27.3 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
The Celtics and Langford have worked diligently to improve his long range shot, including making Langford tape a ping-pong paddle to his off-hand during training camp.
Langford showed strides in his 3-point shot making in the win over Charlotte. He drained two of his three triples he attempted as the Hornets didn’t respect his ability to connect from that far out. Langford never hesitated in taking the shots, either, which further illustrates his growing confidence in knocking down 3-pointers after his shot was dissected to the max in the preseason.
“I feel a lot more comfortable,” said Langford of his shot. “It feels natural now.”
The depth the Celtics possess at the wing position with Tatum along with Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward also made it difficult for Langford to see the court early on.
But with Hayward nursing a sore left foot recently, Langford was put more into the scrunitized spotlight and he has delivered. And it hasn’t just been offensively for the swingman, as Langford can be an adept defender, too. After Cody Martin beat Langford baseline, Langford recovered to cleanly block Martin’s layup and Langford also recorded two steals in almost 18 minutes Friday against the Detroit Pistons.
“His defense was excellent,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It’s night and day what three games of experience will do for you. He’s a very versatile wing defender and he played really hard.”
And Langford can do more of that going forward for the Celtics, not just in practice but in games. There’s reasons to be optimistic and encouraged about his play rather than trying to see who the Celtics passed up on in the draft to take Langford.
It hasn’t been an ideal start to Langford's NBA career, but don’t quit on Romeo Langford yet.