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NBA Draft 2019: There’s a lot to like about Romeo Langford

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Some teams will regret not taking this offensively gifted two-guard — will the Pistons be one of them?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Indiana-Ohio State David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Although Romeo Langford’s only season at Indiana University didn’t go quite as planned, his versatility and athleticism cause most NBA folks to lick their chops dry. Throughout a large part of the college season, as the 6-foot-6 shooting guard was struggling to shoot the ball and lead Indiana to decency, he was largely slated to be a top 6 or 7 pick. However, as Langford’s shooting struggles became a major cause of concern, he eventually slipped down the draft board. The Pistons, at pick 15, very well could see Langford still be available.

Overall, Langford’s numbers at IU are far from poor. He averaged 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in 34 minutes. He shot 72 percent from the foul line. He played much of the season with a torn thumb ligament, which no doubt impacted his three-point shooting (and shooting in general), which certainly left a lot to be desired at just 27.2 percent on 125 attempts.

Langford entered college as a capable three-point shooter, so most didn’t expect him to be such a poor long range shooter. It’s hard for me to harp on Langford’s shooting motion that we saw at Indiana, which was less than textbook, because we don’t know its true makeup because of the thumb injury. More on Langford’s stroke later.

THE MOCKS

Gary Parrish at CBS Sports has Langford going to the Wizards at no. 9 (May 28th).

Kyle Boone, also at CBS Sports, has Langford going to the Miami Heat at no. 13 (May 20th).

In Tankathon’s June 8th mock, Langford is going no. 16.

Basketball Insiders has him in the 20s per their latest mock late last month. However, in their consensus mock draft version 5.0 a few days ago, all four of their writers are going with Langford between pick 13 and 15.

NBA COMPARISON

Could Romeo Langford turn out the way Markelle Fultz has so far? Sure. Romeo has ball handling and creation skills, plus better-than-average athleticism, yet he might not ever be able to shoot worth a lick, like Fultz (the Fultz situation still has me and many others perplexed). At least Langford won’t have the pressure of being the first pick in the draft.

Worst case, Romeo will be similar to Evan Turner, a good ball handler and distributor that isn’t much of a threat beyond the mid-range area. If you forgot, Evan has a career 29.6-percent three-point percentage to go along with a massive salary (he’ll make 18.6 million next season!) for that mediocre skill-level.

Best case, Romeo’s career sees a Jimmy Butler-like trajectory. Jimmy struggled off and on with his three-point shooting his first several years in the league, though now for the past three seasons he’s been shooting in the mid-thirties. And we know Jimmy is a beast in other ways. Romeo has the athleticism and all-around offensive skill that he can be a weapon in a variety of ways on offense, and also be a plus defender with his quickness, strength and length.

WHY LANGFORD WILL BE A DYNAMIC SCORING THREAT

He’s not afraid to take it to the basket and is quite adept at finishing. According to Draft Express video scouting guru Mike Schmitz, Langford is one of the best finishers in the draft, having converted 64-percent of his attempts at the rim in the halfcourt. He’s 6-foot-6 in shoes, but more importantly, he has a 6-foot-11 wingspan. His athleticism and length will allow him to finish in the lane and at the cup over most defenders. Romeo is also crafty, with a soft touch, and rarely hesitates.

Romeo knows how to hunt for looks inside, even in traffic. His body contortion ability is Grade A, while he still is able to put up soft shots that have a good chance to drop. Young players having confidence getting to the basket is half the battle. It’s easy to see he’s already a quality ball-handler at such a young age — Romeo will be 20 in October.

These two plays show Romeo’s bullish finesse in getting to HIS spot at the rim: his ball handling ability helps matters, as does his developing bulky frame — and his length sure doesn’t hurt.

ROMEO’S JUMP SHOT

His jump shot is not exactly pretty. Jump shots don’t have to be pretty if they go in a lot, but when your jump shot isn’t pretty and isn’t going in, a wise first step is to make it look more like a Steph Curry or Kawhi Leonard shot and less like a Elfrid Payton shot. Romeo cocks the ball over his head for a split second, making an already tough shot even tougher with all of the added movement and extension. That needs a wholesale change. His footwork needs improvement too, but that should come along with better and more detailed coaching at the NBA level, not to mention just correct repetition.

These three looks give you a look at Langford’s setup and actual shooting form and stroke:

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Romeo has a legitimate shot to be a top-five player in the draft when all is said and done. The three players who no doubt will be superior are Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and Jarrett Culver. The rest of the NBA Draft seems lackluster this year, I’ll agree. Total crapshoot.

However, there will be a handful of very good players to come out in the top 20, a couple sprinkled around the late first round, and one or two in the second round. The Pistons, at no. 15, will certainly have the chance to draft one of these players. Will they whiff?

The offensive instinct and shot creating ability are there for Romeo. Although he’s not a superior run-jump athlete, you don’t have to be to succeed. Just have Romeo be healthy, and have a few years to further develop his game — then I feel positive about what he can become.

Bad Boys Nation, what’s the news?