Welcome to Pounding the Rock’s 2022-23 player reviews! The series will look at all 16 players that finished the season with the Spurs (minus Khem Birch since he never suited up), so we won’t be reviewing players like Stanley Johnson or Isaiah Roby. In the next edition, we will be taking a look at Romeo Langford’s performance and his outlook for the future.
2022-23 Stats: 43 games, 6.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 46.7 FG%
2022-23 Salary: $5,634,257
Contract Status: Restricted free agent, pending a qualifying offer
Romeo Langford arrived in San Antonio in the trade that sent Derrick White to Boston, and from the start it was hard to tell if he was just salary filler or someone the Spurs wanted to give a second chance to. The former 15th overall pick had struggled to stay on the court with the Celtics and didn’t live up to the potential he showed in high school, but he was still young and talented enough to carve up a role for himself if he could finally show some consistency. Alas, the issues that plagued him in his previous stop remained.
Langford, who never suited up for at least 50 games in his four years in the league, had several health issues throughout the season that prevented him from becoming a trusted rotation player. His shaky outside shot, which has been the reason he hasn’t become the solid 3-and-D wing he’s meant to be, continued to limit him, as he only made threes at a 26 percent rate overall despite the vast majority of his attempts being of the wide open variety, according to NBA.com/Stats. The main two factors that made the Celtics comfortable with moving him despite his youth and cost-controlled contract remained an issue in San Antonio.
There were some good moments, though. When healthy, Langford proved to be a stout point-of-attack defender. After waiving Josh Primo, the Spurs asked him to come off the bench and guard point guards often, and he did it well while also being able to handle wings and even some power forwards on switches. He was without a doubt one of their best players on that end. He was also a tenacious offensive rebounder and willing cutter, which mitigated some of the severe lack of gravity he had on offense.
For the most part, Langford played hard and within himself, defended well across several positions and occasionally showed some shot-creation potential. The problem for him was too often, the negatives outweighed the positives, and his limitations were exposed on a rebuilding team filled with players as flawed as himself.
Figuring out what to do with Langford is one of the most interesting decisions the Spurs will face in the offseason, mostly because of his age and affordability. He’s just 23 years old, which fits San Antonio’s rebuilding timeline, and he does have a good skillset on defense. In the past, it would have been easy to make a case for them to re-sign him for cheap, try to teach him how to shoot and potentially develop him into a solid 3-and-D wing. Right now, though, the coaching staff has a lot of developmental projects that they should probably prioritize over someone who doesn’t project to be a difference-maker, and there could be up to three more rookies coming. Is Langford worth the time and effort?
The answer is probably no. The struggles not only from beyond the arc but also the free throw line suggest that his shot needs a lot of work and might never become a reliable weapon. He’s shown some flashes of potential as a secondary ball handler and shot creator, but they were few and far between, and his lack of elite athleticism is a concern in that role. He probably won’t command a big salary and could be a natural replacement for Keita Bates-Diop as a cheap, offensively limited but defensively versatile piece off the bench, but the health issues could act as a deterrent for a front office that will need to value its roster spots.
If the market is cold enough on Langford that he can be had for the minimum, a return is definitely possible. Someone should take a flyer on him based on his improvement on defense and his motor. But there are simply too many wings who can do a little bit of everything except shoot on the market, and Langford did very little to separate himself from the pack in the 2022-23 season, at least on the court.
Dec. 29 vs. New York Knicks: 23 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Final grade: C
Up Next: Devin Vassell