Romeo Langford: Defense
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.
Langford has had a few impressive showcases as an on-ball defender. His smothering of Northwestern’s Vic Law and Penn State’s Josh Reaves showed he has the ability to take decent college wing scorers out of the game and fight through screens. However, he has not been tested much beyond players of this caliber. This is concerning, as Reaves and Law both project to not have the ball much at the next level. Langford is not an elite lateral athlete, so he will need to be near-perfect to stay in front of quicker guards. This raises concerns about his engagement level and willingness to apply himself on every possession. The motor will need to show up on every on-ball possession against quick guards in the NBA, and so far it has not.
Langford knows where to be off-ball in theory. When given a directive to chase a shooter around and fight through screens or help the undersized Juwan Morgan deny a post entry to a Big Ten behemoth, he sticks to the script. When confronted with an unfamiliar situation, his off-ball defense becomes a mixed bag. Langford has trouble prioritizing threats in real time. He will sometimes pay too much attention to a post-up happening on the other side of the court and lose his man, or he will stay glued to the perimeter and fail to provide necessary help defense. The only saving grace for these situations is that he is inexperienced and knows what he needs to do, even if he fails to do it in real time, and that these instincts will gradually be built up.
Langford’s help defense is generally similar to his off-ball defense. He knows where and when he needs to help off his man, but does not always do it. He understands when he needs to dig into the ball handler and help off his man on drives, but when faced with more complex situations he has the tendency to freeze up. As a result he often rotates late to help weak-side, and does not have the elite athleticism to make up for lost reaction time.
Langford can hang against some post players on switches in college. He is not going to be someone teams hunt out because of his ability to stay in front of both guards and bigger wings for short stretches. He may be exposed by quick twitch guards who usually have the ball, as well as post threats. While he can guard a multitude of perimeter players, he will struggle to switch onto the perimeter players most likely to have the ball.
High impact plays
Langford’s penchant for generating events on defense is occasionally in full effect. He amasses blocks on-ball and will intercept the occasional pass to his man. This activity comes in spurts, though, and he cannot be relied on to make out-of-area plays on defense, which based on his projection as a wing and off-guard defender will be the impact plays most vital to his success as a defender at the next level.