It’s hard to believe that we are less than two months away from the start of the NBA playoffs. For many players in the association this means prepping for the stretch run, but for rookies the next 26-30 games serve as a tryout for a role in the playoffs or for next season. The Celtics have seven rookies on the team with some on two-way contracts to the Maine Red Claws. With the all-star break here, this serves as a good chance to grade the rookies impact in Boston with a detailed look at the first round picks.
C’s fans could use the famous Shakespeare line in saying, “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” due to Langford being out for most of the first half of the season. When he was drafted in July the Indiana product was recovering from thumb surgery, and since then the road only got bumpier. A sprained knee, groin injury and a sprained ankle two times in Maine. Due to other injuries on the team Romeo started to see regular minutes starting in February, seeing about 70 minutes of game time in five Celtics contests. Offensively he still has a lot learn, which is understandable as a rookie. Defensively, however, I’ve been fairly impressed in what I’ve seen. Four blocks and two steals against the Magic and Hawks, which may look like bad teams but they’re still NBA players under contract. Langford and Smart knew each other before the draft, and Romeo’s shown some of Smart’s tendencies which can mean good things in the coming years. I wonder if he’s still paying for that $4,500 Chipotle prank?
Langford Grade: C
As Danny Ainge calls him, the Geek Freak has seen the most time on the parquet out of any of the rookies. Starting out the Tennessee graduate was 0-25 on three point attempts before hitting his first in garbage time against the Cleveland Cavaliers. On defense Williams is 8th among rookies in blocks with 29 at the break, and tied for 22nd in steals. On a team with multiple all-star caliber players that is very eye-opening. Offensively Grant still has shots to improve on. His 3-point shot is SLOWLY starting to improve, and he has no problem taking the ball to the hole, but as time goes by he’ll need to get a true midrange shot if he’s matched up with a 4 on the floor. And he could grow into an offensive 5 to give the Celtics depth.
Williams Grade: B+
Other Celtics 1st year players (Only players with 10+ games receive a grade)
Carsen Edwards: 33 Games, 9 MPG, 2.9 PPG Grade: C-
Tremont Waters: 9 Games, 8.1 MPG, 3.1 PPG Grade: INC
Tacko Fall: 6 Games, 4 MPG, 3.2 PPG Grade: INC
Javonte Green: 41 Games, 9.1 MPG, 3 PPG Grade: C-
Vincent Poirier: 18 Games, 6 MPG, 1.9 PPG Grade: D+
As the season winds down, these players should see some increased playing time with load management and other injuries. I expect good things to come for these 1st year players, who have to make the most of their opportunities.