There might as well be big yellow caution tape surrounding the Boston Celtics roster. With all the moving parts recently, including at Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the C’s current roster looks a lot like a construction zone as they try to arrange all the pieces that are coming and going.
Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are certainly out the door. The C’s also cleared cap space by trading Aron Baynes to the Phoenix Suns, so are the Celtics looking to reload? Or do they see a longer road back to glory centered around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown?
It is a much different position than the Celtics were in a year ago, and coming off a season that feel well short of expecations, the C’s are now faced with grappling with the uncertainty that lies ahead.
“Because of the great work that our front office has done over the years, even when we’re in a position where we’ll have some uncertainty as we move forward, we’re in pretty good shape,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “These are new opportunities and opportunity to really evaluate where we are, what we need to do and everything else. We feel good about our foundation and want to learn from certainly the disappointment that we all shared, but also are optimistic and positive as we look toward the future.”
No. 14 overall pick Romeo Langford and No. 22 overall pick Grant Williams, along with second-rounders Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters are now a part of that future.
A 6-foot-6 small forward out of Indiana University, Langford, who played through most of his freshman season with torn ligaments in his thumb, fits the mold Stevens and the Celtics have looked for in recent drafts as the NBA shifts toward positionless basketball.
“(Langford is) a guy that we think has a lot of things that translate to the NBA,” Stevens said. “A long, versatile, athletic wing. He can play multiple positions. Can handle the ball. Can play in pick and roll. Can do some of that stuff. We’re excited about Romeo.”
The major red flag with Langford is his ability to shoot beyond the arc, as he shot just 27% from long range in his only season with the Hoosiers. The thumb injury could have played a role in that and Stevens said Langford had surgery in late March, early April and his status to play in the summer league is unclear.
“If you picked an area that he’s going to have to work on, that would be it,” said Stevens of Langford’s 3-point shooting. “He’s a better shooter than he shot this year as noted by both his touch, his free throws and the way he shot it in high school. The thumb I think was impactful.”
Stevens raved about what the Celtics have in Williams, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward who spent three years at the University of Tennessee and earned SEC Player of the Year honors twice. What stands out most about Williams is his high-IQ that should serve the Celtics well.
“I look at (Williams) as a guy with a point guard’s mind,” Stevens said. “You can run offense through him at the elbows, on the block, at the top of the key. He thinks the game. He’s a tough, tough, guy and he’s a versatile player who can shoot the ball. Didn’t shoot it as much from three. They didn’t need him to do it, but his shot looks good. We think that’ll be a pretty easy transition for him. Very intelligent. … You couldn’t be more impressed with a kid when you sit down with him.”