#11 on the PB Big Board
G – Indiana
Freshman, 6’6, 215 pounds
What he does well:
Playing in traffic
Langford’s two most prominent skills both relate to his ability to feel defensive pressure around him and still succeed offensively.
The first of these skills is Langford’s adeptness at finishing in the lane. For a 6-foot-6 guard, Langford lives in the paint, constantly finding ways to penetrate to the rim. Once he gets into the restricted area, Langford isn’t a wide-boy bruiser or a high-flier, but possesses the best touch around the glass that I’ve seen since Kyrie Irving.
Langford is special around the rim, knowing when and how to spin in bank shots, re-arrange his body for a tough floater, or reverse around the rim for a better look.
Elsewhere on the court, Langford is a sharp ball-handler. He has the innate ability to feel the defense and dictate how, where, and when he’ll dribble. Many a defender this season thought they were about to nab a steal before a quick change of pace or direction by a dribbling Romeo Langford left them empty handed.
His comfort around the trees in the paint or with arms draped around him on the perimeter makes Langford an intriguing creator at the next level. Coming off of a screen or using one in a pick-and-roll, Langford is the kind of player who senses that attention but does not allow it to overly affect his movements.
All of those qualities above are usually seen in smaller players, like Irving, who need to be top of the line ball-handlers and creative finishers to make up for their height.
Langford has a leg up on this group with his height and build. At the combine, he measured 6-foot-6 in shoes with a 6-foot-11 wingspan. That length allows him to be even more creative and daring around the rim, trying things that a smaller player couldn’t accomplish.
It also lets him be a capable defender, bothering smaller guards constantly with his reach. By the end of the season, Langford was taking on every key defensive assignment for the Hoosiers in the backcourt, in addition to carrying the load offensively.
Where he struggles:
Langford’s stroke isn’t broken beyond repair, as evidenced by his 77 percent free throw shooting. Yet he was never able to find a rhythm beyond the arc in college, shooting a brutal 27 percent from long range.
Part of his issue was shot selection. While doing everything for Indiana, he tried, at times, to do too much, attempted step-backs and fadeaways that he isn’t equipped to make.
When he catches in stride and rises up normally, Langford’s jump shot works. If he can make the necessary tweaks to be reliable shooter, even making in the low to mid 30s percentage wise, Langford’s offensive game will be much stronger.
His defense was very good this season, when his effort matched his ability. At times, Langford appeared to be coasting on that end of the floor. Perhaps that’s judging him based on just how much he was being asked to handle in total, leading the offense and being Indiana’s best defender, but it was apparent when watching the Hoosiers.
When Indiana dropped 12 of 13 games in Big Ten play, this was especially evident. Langford was capable of being the best defender in the conference, but didn’t always have the legs or push to do so. When he was engaged, however, there was no question how good he could be. In an upset win over Michigan State, Langford clearly got the best of All-American Cassius Winston for all 40 minutes of the game.
If Langford can end up on a team with the right mix of motivation and leadership, he’s got a chance to start his career strong and be a contender for Rookie of the Year ballots. If he’s on a floundering mediocre team, his effort levels and shot selection could suffer.
How his game translates to the NBA:
A lot of what Langford does makes sense at the next level. He’s built to attack the rim, rack up foul shots, and defend his position.
Any fit issue with him in the pros will be centered around his shot. If he starts to consistently make threes, he’s a 2019 NBA scout’s dream. Langford, stylistically, could play like a poor man’s James Harden: using a tight dribble and a nose for contact, daring teams to give him an open jumper or an avenue to the basket.
He’s a long, long way from Harden at his current age and shooting ability, but to even have the tools to dream about that kind of ceiling career makes him worth a pick in the lottery.
- 6-foot-6 Kyrie Irving
- James Harden
- Those two are crazy flattering so let’s look more at his floor…
- Reggie Jackson
- Evan Turner
- Tyreke Evans
Next up: #12 PJ Washington
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and senior writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to ESPN.com, Rush The Court, Larry Brown Sports, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. You can find every post from this blog on Twitter by following @PalestraBack.