Celtics Spotlight

Celtics Spotlight: It's all about the future for oft-injured Romeo Langford

Celtics Spotlight: It's all about the future for oft-injured Romeo Langford

NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers starts at 6:30pm Wednesday with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30pm.

Romeo Langford didn’t have any preconceived ideas of how his early days as an NBA player. 

But this is certainly not what he had in mind. 

After healing up from a thumb injury suffered in college, Langford was out for summer league and limited in some capacity for most of training camp with a groin injury and later, a knee sprain. 

Spotlights: Walker | Smart | Brown | Hayward | Kanter |

Tatum | Fall | Wanamaker | Ojeleye | Edwards R. Williams | Theis Poirier G. Williams

Those setbacks have created this narrative in the minds of many that the 19-year-old — while talented — can’t stay healthy enough to see that talent through which makes him one of the bigger mysteries on the Celtics roster. 

It’s a successful season for Langford if… 

...he can carve out a role as a change-of-pace playmaker off Boston’s bench. A solidly built 6-foot-6 wing, Langford’s versatility gives Boston a plug-and-play option with the skills to play multiple positions. He shot the ball poorly in college, in part because of torn ligaments in his right (shooting hand) thumb. It's an injury that Langford still managed to play with for the final 24 games of the season. In limited playing time with the Celtics, he has shown himself to have a good feel for how to get into the lane and finish at the rim due to a 216-pound frame that he uses well once in the paint.

It’s a disappointing season for Langford if … 

...injuries prevent him from playing close to the promise he showed two years ago as one of the best high school players to come out of Indiana. Multiple health setbacks prevented Langford from playing in summer league and limited him to just two preseason games. Because of that, expectations are low as to what Langford will contribute to the Celtics this season. 

 
2019-2020 Outlook

The injuries that have sidelined Romeo Langford by and large have been minor; just enough to keep him off the floor, unfortunately. But with the games coming fast and furious in the NBA relative to what Langford experienced in his lone season in college at Indiana, this season is going to be more about lessons learned than playing for the youngest member of the Celtics roster. And that’s OK. Because the upside with Langford’s game is great enough to where the Celtics can bring him along slowly, knowing that the experience gained through the rigors of the NBA schedule combined with his immense potential talent-wise, gives hope that in time Langford can be a key contributor to this franchise’s quest to get back in the hunt for Banner 18 soon. 

Season opener vs. C's 'not just another game' for Horford>>>>>

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Celtics Spotlight: Can 7-foot Vincent Poirier add needed depth at center?

Celtics Spotlight: Can 7-foot Vincent Poirier add needed depth at center?

BOSTON -- Even with all the uncertainty surrounding the Celtics and the center position, Vincent Poirier knew this transition was not going to be a smooth one. 

He’s playing in the NBA for the first time, with a new and unfamiliar group of teammates, in a new system and by all accounts, a very different role than the one he had overseas. 

Spotlights: Walker | Smart | Brown | Hayward | Kanter |

Tatum | Fall | Wanamaker | Ojeleye | Edwards | Williams

But the approach now Poirier says, isn’t all that different than it has been elsewhere when it comes to basketball.

“I’ve been in this situation before where I have to fight to find my spot,” Poirier told NBC Sports Boston. “So I’m ready. I’m just working hard, learning fast and I’m OK with that. I know that’s the process. I’m focusing on my role.”

It’s a successful season for Poirier if… 

...he can work his way into a semi-consistent role this season. In preseason action, the 7-foot center has provided glimpses of why he has been on the Celtics radar for the past three seasons. He led the Euroleague last season in rebounding (8.3 per game) with a good chunk of his damage coming on the offensive glass. While he played limited minutes in the preseason, his per-36 minutes per game numbers are a solid 9.9 points and 8.9 rebounds, the kind of production that Boston will need from the center position this season. 

It’s a disappointing season for Poirier if… 

...he spends most of the season buried at the end of the Celtics’ bench. Distinguishing himself from the rest of those contending for minutes at the center position has been a challenge of sorts thus far in training camp. Daniel Theis has been a solid defender against post players as well as smaller players on defensive switches. Enes Kanter’s low-post game offensively and rebounding prowess will get him on the floor for sure. And Robert Williams III’s freakish athleticism and improved understanding of how to play at this level will mean minutes for the second-year big man as well.

2019-2020 Outlook

Poirier is saying all the right things now as far as being patient while waiting for his chance to play meaningful minutes. It’s easy to feel that way in October when the season hasn’t started. But what if when the games start coming one after another, and the calendar flips to 2020 and Poirier finds himself buried on the bench? Barring an injury or two (which is more likely than not at some point), Poirier isn’t going to play much this season. And even if healthy, he still might not get much court time if head coach Brad Stevens leans on his more skilled (and undersized) players, which is very possible.  Poirier has shown some of the skills that Boston likes in a big man for sure. But the way this team is built coupled with the players ahead of him on the depth chart, it's hard to envision the 26-year-old will work his way into being anything more than a spot-duty player whose minutes and opportunities to play will fluctuate all season. 

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Celtics Spotlight: Grant Williams brings energy, poise beyond his rookie status

Celtics Spotlight: Grant Williams brings energy, poise beyond his rookie status

Usually, when rookies get tasked with addressing a crowd, it’s the veterans putting a young player in an awkward situation. But Grant Williams isn’t your typical rookie.

Taking the stage at the Celtics’ Shamrock Foundation Gala on Thursday night, Williams and teammate Enes Kanter were tasked with saying hello and setting the agenda for the evening. In the blink of an eye, Williams convinced the crowd to sing an impromptu version of "Happy Birthday" to Vincent Poirier, then led an auction chant that quick raised $75,000 for charity.

Spotlights: Walker | Smart | Brown | Hayward | Kanter |

Tatum | Fall | Wanamaker | Ojeleye | Edwards 

Yes, Williams brings an undeniable poise and energy to everything that he does, including when he’s on the basketball court. That’s why the 22nd pick from June’s draft is likely to have an immediate opportunity to earn playing time in Boston. It also helps his cause that good things tend to happen when he’s on the court (and, evidently, the mic, too). 

It’s a successful season for Williams if… 

…he remains a plus/minus monster like we saw at summer league and again in the preseason. Williams does a little bit of everything and, while it’s unfair to expect him to replace Al Horford’s contributions, he can bring a bit of what the team lost in screening, passing, and simply making the right play. Williams shot the ball well beyond the 3-point arc (41.7 percent) in the preseason, an encouraging sign for a player that shot 29.1 percent from distance for his college career. If he ultimately proves he can joust with NBA bigs despite giving up size, the 6-foot-6 (without shoes) Williams can carve out a role in this new-look frontcourt.

It’s a disappointing season for Williams if… 

…his size becomes an issue against NBA bigs. The preseason was an encouraging glimpse but how does Williams hold up against a team like Philadelphia with its Horford/Joel Embiid front line? Williams has brought a lightheartedness to the team since his arrival and it’d be a disappointment if he lost any of that youthful exuberance for any reason.

2019-2020 Outlook

Williams impacts the game in so many ways that it’s easy to see him carving out a role, and one that might grow as the season goes on. Williams has got a bit of PJ Tucker in him and he’s probably as close to a Horford-type big as the team has. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has already said Williams will have a long NBA career and his basketball IQ alone will distinguish him among his rookie peers.

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