Did Langford exceed or disappoint expectations at Indiana?
J.R. - Well, this is a bit of a loaded question, though I’m sure unintentionally. The brief of it is that Romeo Langford was the most hyped recruit in basketball-crazed Indiana in nearly a decade. The expectations were so high he would never meet them. But even if you lower the standards, he was still a disappointment, partially through no fault of his own. The roster was a flawed one that was held up much of the season by Juwan Morgan and an injured (more on that later) Langford. But Langford wasn’t ready or able to carry the team like some five-star superstar recruits in the past.
If there is one NBA top skill, what is it?
J.R. - Without a doubt, his best NBA skill is his finishing at the rim. Last season, he attempted 118 non post-up shots at the rim and shot 63.6 percent on them, putting him in the 87th percentile. He’s not necessarily a crafty finisher or deceptive like a Kyrie Irving but he uses his length, wingspan and soft touch while having a good grasp on angles to finish in a variety of ways.
If there is one NBA glaring weakness, what is it?
J.R. - Well it’s the oft-mentioned one and it’s his shooting. Langford was great at the rim, above average in the mid-range (51.6 percent in shots 17’ to the three-point line) and terrible beyond the arc. A variety of things factored into that but he went from a mid-30 percent three-point shooter in high school to a 27.4 percent three-point shooter on 113 attempts last season.
His shot is going to need a fair amount of work. His stance isn’t great, the shot comes from atop his head and there’s a ton of wrist action in it. But he also injured his thumb in the first weeks of the season that required surgery pretty immediately after the season ended and that certainly had a big impact on the shot.
Other than his physical gifts, how he could he contribute to the Heat? (energy or IQ or leadership or discipline or coachable or ???)
J.R. - Well, for one, Langford was absolutely terrific in the pick-and-roll last season. Like his finishing at the rim, it’s another area that will translate immediately to the NBA. He has a great feel when coming off the screen of when and how to attack the basket and that’s when his finishing shows through.
He’s also a willing and able passer as well. Of everything about his game this season, his passing ability is what surprised me the most. It was subtle at times and he didn’t often flash it but when he did, it was at a high level. He’s also a willing passer to spot-up shooters out of the pick and roll but Indiana had so few of those that he quickly abandoned that plan this season.
I would also say he’s a very coachable and lowkey player. He is very reserved on the court and doesn’t often show emotion. At times it’s often confused with a lack of effort but it’s just the way he plays regardless if his side is up 20 or down 20. He has a smoothness that also translates in the same way. He’s rarely frazzled or out of sorts.
What do you think NBA scouts or media pundits missed in his evaluation, what under-the-radar talent could surprise an up-or-down side?
J.R. - This might not be quite the answer you’re looking for, but I will say that I’m not sure enough was made about the injury Langford suffered. He broke a bone in his thumb and was in a form of a cast/hand wrap for the rest of the season. As well as being an awkward fit to get used to, there was obviously discomfort and it took a while for him to get used to it, though I don’t think he ever did truly adjust.
The shot form needs work regardless. But he was playing games in a lot of discomfort with a lot of pressure. It was a perfect blend of bad for Langford that spiraled a bit at times this year. There’s something to be said about going to an environment in Miami, potentially, where all the pressure will be off.