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Romeo Langford starting to prove himself in preseason

Langford started in place of Jaylen Brown vs. the Raptors.

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Less than a week ago, Romeo Langford played the final ten minutes of Boston’s first preseason game against Orlando. During training camp, those opportunities are usually reserved for end-of-the-roster players looking to prove themselves and earn a spot in the rotation. With an influx of veterans like Dennis Schroder, Josh Richardson, and Juancho Hernangomez, Langford has been thrust in a position he’s all too familiar with: proving himself. He’d eventually hit the game-winning three against the Magic and after a week of practices, opportunity knocked.

Six days later, he started in the place of Jaylen Brown (unavailable to health and safety protocols), finishing with 13 points including 3-for-4 from behind the arc against the Raptors.

“I thought Romeo was great in the starting lineup, played well offensively and defensively,” head coach Ime Udoka said. “Obviously shot the ball well, but he does the little things well.”

Most of Langford’s buckets came off the catch-and-shoot variety, but he showed some aggression off the bounce, including a coast-to-coast drive in transition.

“My confidence is really high right now,” Langford said. “I’ve been putting in so much work in since day one.”

After two injury-riddled seasons, Langford finally benefitted from an offseason where he wasn’t recovering from a surgery and could work on his game and his body over the summer. That’s allowed him to put the finishing touches on a jumper that needed work after he played his lone season at Indiana University with a torn ligament in his thumb. Through the preseason, Langford has hit 5-of-6 of his threes.

“I feel good. My body feels good. My mind is good. I’m just happy that I got a chance to be at training camp and have a healthy summer,” Langford said. “It feels good to be in a little rhythm.”

In the offseason, Josh Richardson was acquired and extended as a self-described “gap filler.” It’s clear that one of Brad Stevens’ objectives was to bring in veterans to support Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Both he and Udoka have said that the young guys will have to earn minutes over them, but it’s hard not to think that Romeo Langford could be getting those minutes soon. Stevens considered him one of his best perimeter defenders in his first two seasons and the offensive flair he showed in high school and college is finally catching up.

“People question my love for the game and passion which is dumb to me,” Langford said during Summer League play. “I just feel like people don’t know me, and you can ask anybody like Joe (Mazzulla), whoever works out with me, how much I love the game, how much heart I have.”

For many young players, their third years are often the leap year, the season where everything just clicks. Despite having his rookie season start with rehab and end with rehab and a sophomore year plagued again my injury and COVID, a productive summer followed by these bulb flashes of production could be the start of the former lottery pick finally getting a chance to prove himself.