Langford Working on Shooting Form as he Rehabs from Thumb Surgery

BOSTON – Practice is in full swing for the Boston Celtics’ Summer League squad, with the exception of one notable player. Romeo Langford, who was the 14th overall pick and Boston’s top selection in the 2019 Draft, has been unable to do any live work so far, as he continues to rehab from an April surgery that repaired a torn ligament in his right thumb.

Despite being sidelined from the team’s four practice sessions, Langford has been able to make the most of his time, whether he’s in the film room, learning his teammates' tendencies by watching them play live, or working on his shooting form.

The 19-year-old guard focused heavily on the latter Tuesday afternoon, as he spent extensive time putting up shots in one corner of the Auerbach Center gymnasium.

Scoring was a great strength of Langford’s during his lone season at Indiana University, where he averaged 16.2 points per game, while shooting 53.0 percent from inside the 3-point arc. He displayed great slashing ability, finishing as one of the most efficient half-court, at-the-rim scorers in Division 1.

Long-distance shooting, however, was something that the Indiana native struggled with, as he shot just 27.2 percent from beyond the arc. Part of that he attributes to the injured thumb that he played through. The other part, he admits, was because of a hitch in his shooting form, of which he is eager to fix as soon as possible.

“If you want to be consistent and be one of the best shooters in the NBA, you can’t really shoot with a hitch in your shot,” Langford said Tuesday after finishing his shooting drills. “So, we’re just trying to limit that one hitch and make it one smooth release.”

One aspect in particular that the coaches are addressing is for Langford to try to keep the thumb of his guide hand (not the surgically-repaired thumb) off the ball when he releases. In order to help fix that, Langford taped a ping-pong paddle to the palm of his left hand during one of his drills.

“That was really just to keep the thumb of my guide hand off the ball, because that kind of messes your shot up and makes you get a bad rotation,” Langford explained. “So we’re trying to limit that.”

Langford will have plenty of time to work on that shooting form over the next couple of weeks, seeing as he’s unlikely to see any live action soon. With that being said, he should still be able to benefit from his time with the team in Las Vegas.

“For him, as far as I know, for the next week or two it’s going to be very light,” said C’s Summer League head coach Scott Morrison. “But the goal is to make sure that he is aware of everything that we’re doing so when he comes back in August or September or whenever that is, he has a head start on our system, our terminology, the guys he’s going to be playing with. In the meantime, improving his skill as much as we can within the confines of his rehabilitation.”

Langford isn’t particularly fond of the prospect of sitting on the sidelines over the next several days of competitive play, but he’ll still find ways to benefit from the experience.

“I’m just using it as a learning experience,” he said. “I’m here to learn a lot and watch other guys do it. Coaches on the sideline are helping me out a lot, so I’ll be up to date when I do get back.”

And when he does return, Langford hopes to display a new-and-improved shooting form along with the rest of his well-developed offensive skill set.


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