The Boston Celtics entered Monday’s game against the Chicago Bulls undermanned — and they looked every bit of it. The team saw their six-game win streak snapped in a six-point defeat at the hands of their Eastern Conference foe. Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart, two players that have manned the majority of the ball-handling duties in Beantown over recent years, were both ruled out for the contest, leaving Boston to get creative at their point guard spot.
Rookie Payton Pritchard drew the start in place of Walker and showed admirably. The Oregon product logged 31 minutes on the night, posting 14 points and three assists. Tremont Waters got in on the action as well, notching nine points in just eight minutes. However, the most intriguing minutes at the position came from a youngster who typically does his damage playing off the ball.
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Celtics Envision Evan Turner-Type Role from Langford in Future
Romeo Langford, the Celtics’ 2019 lottery pick, has flashed since returning to the lineup, mainly due to his efforts on the defensive end. Readily known for his streaky scoring coming out of Indiana, the team asked their young wing to shoulder a larger distributor role against the Bulls — a role that’s been mostly foreign to the 21-year-old since entering the league.
“We tried to play Romeo there a little bit,” Stevens said of letting Langford run the show, via the Boston Globe. “I don’t know if that’s in his wheelhouse yet, but he has to get to that point with his size and his ability to pass the ball.”
Stevens admitted after the game that the 6-foot-4-inch, 216-pound Langford is “still kind of swimming,” likely pointing to the notion that Langford will revert back to his typical role in the short-term. With that said, Stevens sounds like a coach willing to hand the ball over to Langford in the future.
“We’re going to avoid it as much as we can right now obviously, because he’s not used to it, hasn’t played enough games to orchestrate and organize a group,” Stevens said. “We will eventually go to Evan Turner mode, I guess.”
Overall, Langford’s stat line was far from noteworthy. He shot 1-of-5 from the field, notching two points, five rebounds and three assists. However, he flaunted impressive vision at times, rallying off a handful of impressive dimes, including this beaut to Luke Kornet.
Celtics Have a ‘Bigger-Picture View’ for Langford
So what exactly does “Evan Turner mode” mean? A former No. 2 overall pick, Turner’s career looked to be fizzling out in the early 2010s. He was a limited shooter who was failing to make a difference on the wing. That is until a move to Boston allowed Turner to man a role far more suited to his skillset. Coach Stevens put the ball in Turner’s hands, and over his two seasons with the team he proceeded to put forth the most well-rounded production of his 10-year NBA career. Now serving on Boston’s coaching staff, Turner believes Langford can follow a similar path to NBA excellence and potentially even develop into a “triple-double threat.”
“He can distribute and be a great complementary piece at a high level,” Turner said of Langford. “He can add rebounding, defense, and his developing shot. He could be a triple-double threat. And with Brad’s playbook, when he starts getting more comfortable, he can start taking people to the post… A lot of the stuff we’re talking about is big-guard stuff, and I think that’s advantageous.”
As noted above, any plans of Langford running the show for the Celtics offense is very much a long-term project. Still,doesn’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to eventually occur.
“At some point, it’s possible Langford will be asked to be one of the team’s lead ball-handlers,”
“Brad has a bigger-picture view where he sees how he can utilize Romeo for all his skill sets,” Turner said. “His pace is good, his defense is already good, and then offensively I appreciate his understanding of the game — Hopefully, if he keeps working, it’ll all work out the right way, because I know for sure what Brad’s system and Brad’s mind, and how he utilized me, did for my career.”