Romeo Langford’s return may be near

Michael Dwyer. AP. 

Romeo Langford, a mainstay on the Celtic injury report in his brief career, may soon suit up for the 
Celtics this season. According to Daniel Theis, who apparently breaks NBA news now, Langford is “close to being back.” It was reported in early February that Langford was unlikely to return before the NBA All-Star Break, but with the game scheduled for March 7th, his return should be near. This is a welcome sign for Celtics fans, as Langford has battled various injuries in his short NBA career. Selected with the 14th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Celtics, Langford played for Indiana University where he played through a torn ligament in his thumb. He was highly recruited out of high school, ranking as the fifth best prospect in the 2018 ESPN Top 100. While playing in college, he only shot 27.2% from three and 44.8%from the field, but again, played with a torn ligament in his thumb. In declaring for the 2019 Draft he dropped to the Celtics at Number 14, but his injuries didn’t stop here.

In his rookie season for the C’s, Langford only played in 32 games. In just under 12 minutes per game, Langford averaged 2.5 points, 1.3 rebounds, and half an assist per game. His shooting splits weren’t much better, as he shot 35% from the field, 19% from three, and 72% from the freethrow line, according to Basketball Reference. Again, Langford was injured for much of his rookie season, as he battled an ankle sprain, recovery from thumb surgery, and spent time with the Maine Red Claws. Langford did not play at all in the NBA Bubble, as he underwent another surgery to repair a ligament in his right wrist in September, which is what has kept him out this season. The traditional recovery timeline is 4-5 months for this type of surgery, so that five month period is approaching in March.

If Langford returns following the All-Star Break, it’s highly unlikely that he will make a significant impact for the Celtics right away. However, I think it is feasible that Langford could come in and play 10-15 solid minutes a game off the bench. When he did play last season, he often played impressive defense. Listed at 6’5” with a 6’10” wingspan, Langford has the length and athleticism to switch onto multiple positions and be a solid all-around defender. Defense has been a weakness for the Celtics this year, and while the 21 year old Langford shouldn’t be relied on as the answer, he could help.

Langford was a top 5 prospect for a reason, and if he can shake the injury bug, he may be able to live up to his high school hype. Langford’s game has some similarities to Terry Rozier, and I see parallels in the beginning of both players’ careers. Rozier didn’t do much in his first season with the Celtics, and while he played 74 games in his second year, it wasn’t until his third season where he became “Scary Terry.” It’s frustrating to see a lottery pick battle injury after injury, but Langford was the 14th pick in the draft for a reason. In a season that has been frustrating for Celtics fans, wouldn’t it be great to see Langford return and demonstrate that he can be an integral part of the Celtics future guard rotation?