[Roster Analysis]: Celtics Already Missing Romeo

The shortened preseason schedule just ended and it’s already blatantly apparent that the Celtics will greatly miss Romeo Langford. With Kemba Walker out for the first month of the season with knee issues, newly-signed Tristan Thompson out with a strained hamstring, and Langford healing from hand surgery, the Celtics depth will be tested early. Even worse, is the gap in the starting lineup left by Gordon Hayward, who was a main facilitator for Brad Stevens offense when he was healthy–a gap that may very well have been filled by Langford, especially if he hadn’t missed out on the valuable experience of going deep into the playoffs in the bubble.

Now Langford is certainly not the passer that Hayward is, but they are both crafty offensive player who can score at all three levels, and most importantly, Langford brings a strong defensive presence to the table. He was so solid in stints last year, that he earned Stevens trust and along with it, a decent amount of P.T. Langford is a crafty scorer and a solid rebounder for a guard–and he averaged about 3 assists per game in high school and at Indiana. So he has it in him to be a decent passer, and would fit in nicely as a dynamic wing in between Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who could project to average 12/5/3 per game, while guarding the best 2 or 3 on the opposing team. Modest numbers for sure, but production that would make a big difference in Hayward’s absence.

Sadly, Langford’s reality is that he has never gotten into an extended groove, and will not be in one anytime soon, having missed out on the vast majority of the bubble experience, needing to heal from the surgery, and now missing training camp. When he returns, in February, as is being speculated currently, the Celtics will be happy to have him, but he’ll need to regain Stevens trust and fight to gain that starting spot that may have been earmarked for him with Hayward gone.

[Roster Analysis]: Jazz Overrated…Again.

Reading and listening to season previews by NBA writers this week, one thing continues to hit me like nails on a chalkboard: predicting the Jazz to be one of the strongest teams in the West and a playoff team that could catch lightning in a bottle a la Miami in the bubble–with many even saying that they’ll be in the top four seeds, including ESPN’s Kevin Pelton. Not sure if these guys are pals with Quin Snyder or Dennis Lindsey, but as with last year, the Jazz are overrated. Yes, there is a shortened season, but even with 72 games you need quality depth on the roster to win enough games to earn home court advantage in a challenging West, and the Jazz don’t have it, period.

IF Mike Conley plays more consistently and IF Bojan Bogdanovic is healthy they will certainly have a talented starting 5, but that’s where the fun ends. Those are just some of the IF’s for the starters. From there, lineups will feature Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, and Derrick Favors? Sorry, but that roster looks to me like a team that is in the 6-10 range at best. They don’t have enough quality wings and they spent their money this offseason on Favors, who will only get so many minutes per game backing up Rudy Gobert (who may mope all season waiting for his max contract), or with a two-big lineup. They have no real back-up PG besides Ingles which equals more minutes for Donovan Mitchell.

In addition, the front office doesn’t have young players or many assets to try and improve the roster in-season, with the possible exception of dealing Ingles or using draft capital. In the end, the weak roster will inevitably force Snyder to overplay the starters, risking fatigue and injuries along the way which could easily have a trickle down effect to underachieving in the playoffs. Enjoy the hot air while you can, Jazz fans, then buckle up for a deflating season.

Update 12/19/2020: Jazz signed Yogi Ferrell and Shaq Harrison since I wrote this post, somehow waking up and realizing that they need more wing depth. Harrison, at the least, will most likely be in their 10-man rotation starting immediately, but sadly, this still doesn’t move the needle for them at all.

Update 3/9/2021: Ferrell and Harrison were both waived, Bogdanovic and Conley have stayed healthy, Clarkson jumped up a level and the Jazz have the best record in the league and are rolling strong into the playoffs. We’ll see if my ‘lack of quality depth’ take will hold true in the playoffs.