BOSTON – Last week, the Boston Celtics held Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to 22 points on a season-low 13 field goal attempts en route to a 116-105 win at TD Garden. Players such as Semi Ojeleye, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis stepped up to help slow down the reigning NBA MVP, but the unsung hero of the job was Romeo Langford.
If you check the play-by-play, you’ll see that the rookie wing only saw 14 seconds of action during that game; however, his main contributions came before the matchup even began.
As they prepared for the Bucks, the C’s called upon Langford to be their “Antetokounmpo imitator.” The assignment required him to have the ball in his hands for most of that particular practice as he impersonated the Greek Freak’s unique skill set to the best of his ability.
Brad Stevens later revealed that it was the most promising work he’s seen to date out of the 20-year-old first-round draft pick.
“I thought it was his best day,” Stevens said following practice Monday afternoon. “And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it was the day with the most reps. I just think he needs reps.”
It’s been challenging for Langford to earn reps early on this season for a number of reasons.
For one, he’s already dealt with a couple of injuries during his short time with the C’s. He missed all of Summer League as he recovered from surgery on his shooting hand, and then missed the beginning of the regular season after spraining his knee during a preseason game.
Another factor that has limited Langford’s reps is Boston’s incredible depth at the wing position. It’s difficult to get playing time when you’re buried on the depth chart behind the likes of Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Semi Ojeleye and Jayson Tatum.
The solution to getting Langford more reps is by temporarily sending him to the G League, which the Celtics did Monday morning as they assigned him to their affiliate team, the Maine Red Claws.
“I think the biggest thing was we were just weighing, is it better to go practice for a full week, get ready to play, or is it better to be available for really, really spotty minutes?” Stevens pondered in regard to Langford’s assignment. “And it just makes sense (to send him to Maine) based on the amount of time he missed early on. And then the knee thing happening and then he missed more time. So we just need him to get as many reps as possible.”
It’s safe to assume that Langford will earn plenty of playing time while with the Red Claws, who tip off their regular season Nov. 9. Having those extra minutes in Maine should provide him a greater opportunity to develop, which could lead to him eventually earning more of a role with the C’s.
“We think he could really help us,” Stevens said. “And I think this is the first step to doing that.”
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