The 2019 NBA Draft should be very entertaining this year, mainly because no one knows what’s going to happen. I mean, no one. Most scouts believe it is a 4-player draft centered around Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, and Darius Garland.
Even with Garland, some teams are hesitant because he is coming off a torn meniscus and only played a few games in college. Still, Garland will go extremely high because of his immense potential and the fact that a meniscus injury is not nearly as impactful as an ACL or Achilles. Because there are only 4 marquee players coming into the draft, the rest of the picks are tossups.
Thus, this year’s draft is one of the most unpredictable in recent memory.
Is there any real difference between drafting at #6 and #10? Maybe not.
Each team has a very different opinion of who should be drafted when. The player Atlanta thinks will go in the top 5 might be a player Phoenix believes should go after 10.
There is no consensus.
Even the mock drafts have incredibly different opinions of players. For example, Romeo Langford is projected to go #8 in some mocks and #23 in others. On Monday, there was talk that the Pelicans were interested in Langford if they moved the #4 pick and were selecting back a few spots somewhere in the top 10. Then, the very next morning, NBADraft.net had Langford sliding all the way into the 20s.
Yet, when they updated the site on the same afternoon, he had jumped all the way back to #15. That’s how quickly things can change.
In other words, this draft is extraordinarily unpredictable. But, the draft being “unpredictable” doesn’t necessarily mean your team’s selection will be “bad.” There is no question that the talent pool this year might not necessarily be as strong as previous drafts. However, it’s important to remember that these evaluations are based on probabilities.
In other words, there are fewer “sure things” in this year’s class. No one really knows who will be the quality starters beyond those 4 marquee prospects at the top. Someone will turn out to be a great player, but who? Your guess is as good as mine. That’s the difficulty and the fun of this draft.
Again, it’s about unpredictability.
Let’s take a look at another draft that was considered very weak. The 2013 draft (a.k.a. the Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo, and Cody Zeller draft) also lacked consensus. This is a real-life headline from just a few weeks before the draft: “Nerlens Noel not a lock at #1.” He ended up #6. Another headline the day before the draft suggested Cleveland was leaning towards taking Alex Len at #1 (he ended up #5). The point is that 2013 had a very similar feel. No one really knew who was going to pan out. There were no surefire selections, no obvious choices. But, if you look back at it, there were some hidden gems.
First and foremost, the #2 pick was Victor Oladipo and he turned out pretty well. But, at the time many criticized Orlando for taking him “too high.” There were several other quality players from that draft that were considered hit or miss prospects. They just happened to hit. Names like CJ McCollum (#10), Steven Adams (#12), Tim Hardaway Jr (#24), Andre Roberson (#26), and Rudy Gobert (#27). All of these are quality NBA players, but they were imperfect prospects.
Today, scouting is easier than ever. You have teams devoting more resources to scouting, omnipresent film, and statistical analysis. Because teams have more information, they are developing more well-informed opinions. Therefore, now more than ever, scouts are disagreeing on their evaluations.
This is most obvious in the NFL, where a team can believe Daniel Jones is the best quarterback in the draft and others believe he is the fifth best quarterback. More information leads to more differing opinions. And, make no mistake, this is also happening in the NBA. Teams are beginning to place even more trust in their scouts and are less likely to follow a herd mentality. It might mean making a risky pick, but GMs want to go down swinging, not following the status quo.
So, what does this unpredictability mean for Romeo Langford?
When uncertainty prevails, potential wins. Romeo Langford’s draft status is likely to be bolstered by this hovering cloud of unpredictability. In these situations, scouts are more likely to overlook imperfections.
Langford overall is a very difficult evaluation because no one really knows how much his injury hampered his shooting performance. He only shot 27.2% from three but reportedly was around a 32-33% three-point shooter in high school. So, was the wrist injury to blame or was there something more?
Even discounting the injury, there are some areas of concern with Langford, specifically regarding his shooting mechanics. He tends to cross his body with the ball and pull it all the way above his head before releasing. This is a bit drawn out and also causes him to move the ball across his face before releasing which could affect his spatial awareness and vision.
Furthermore, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie outlined other issues in a recent episode of The Ringer’s “One Shining Podcast.” He noted two other flaws. First, he has an unnatural wrist bend where he bends his wrist at a 90° angle on his jumpshots. While this has some benefits like creating a nice arc and spin on the ball, it also causes him to have an inconsistent release point. Secondly, he is unsure with his footwork. Sometimes he will go left foot, right foot and rise while other times he goes right foot, left foot and rise. There is little consistency. There are also reports that even in open practices he never makes more than 4-5 threes in a row.
Still, despite these concerns, Langford has enormous upside. He can score in a variety of ways and create his own shot. His 6’6 frame and 8’7 standing reach allow him to match up with multiple positions and rebound effectively. He is also a great, unselfish team player. Not to mention, he is a willing and capable defender.
In fact, his game is probably even better suited for the NBA than college. With better spacing and more shooters around him, this will open up the court allowing him to drive into open spaces. Moreover, his defense will likely continue to improve. He has the size, athleticism, footwork, and desire to be a great defender. With more practice, he will continue to see returns.
There is no question he has massive potential. With nothing certain in this year’s draft, teams are more likely to take a chance on Langford. When nearly every player on the board has imperfections, the question becomes who has the highest ceiling if everything goes according to plan. One could argue that beyond the top 4 prospects that Langford could potentially have the highest ceiling (with the only other contenders being Reddish, Culver, and White).
When it comes to the NBA Draft, there are no guarantees. But, don’t be surprised if Langford goes ahead of schedule. Many aspects of the draft are unpredictable; yet, the one thing that is not is that scouts love potential.
(Featured Photo: IndianaHQ)