Celtics summer league: 5 updates on 5 players

It's almost time for Vegas.

Brad Stevens Gordon Hayward
Brad Stevens talking to Gordon Hayward. –photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

The Celtics returned to summer league practice on Tuesday and will practice once more before departing for Las Vegas on Thursday. 

Here’s what we learned after Tuesday’s session:

Romeo Langford is working on his shot.

Working with new assistant coach Joe Mazzulla, top draft pick Romeo Langford was practicing his shot with a ping pong paddle taped to his left hand. According to Langford and Morrison, the purpose is to keep the thumb of Langford’s guide hand off the ball on his follow-through. 

“That kind of messes your shot up, makes you get a bad rotation,” Langford said. 

The Celtics aren’t the first staff to point out the issue to Langford, who said he has also been working on having a smoother release.

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“I used to shoot with a little hitch in my shot,” he said. “If you want to be a consistent — one of the best — shooters in the NBA, you can’t really shoot with a hitch in your shot.” 

In his one season at Indiana, Langford shot 44.8 percent from the field and 27.2 percent from behind the arc. His shot has been an area of uncertainty, as a torn ligament in his right thumb suffered in November may have hindered him throughout the season.

Langford has been wearing a bandage on his thumb, which underwent surgery in April. The injury will likely keep him sidelined for the duration of summer league, though Langford still plans to travel to Vegas with the team. 

Gordon Hayward is putting in work, too. 

In addition to leading the summer league squad, Morrison has been working with forward Gordon Hayward during the offseason. 

“This will be the fifth or sixth week he’s been going every day,” Morrison said. “He has a pretty intense weight program three or four days a week and is on the court five days a week. He’s getting stronger, getting faster, getting leaner.

“From a basketball perspective, it’s hard to test things like that, but I think he looks pretty good — his shot, his ball handling is a lot crisper. He’s just hungry to get better. I don’t want to speak for him, but I’m very happy with the effort and progress that he’s putting in.” 

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President of basketball operations Danny Ainge has also expressed optimism about Hayward’s upcoming season. 

“I think Gordon is going to have a great year,” Ainge said in June. “He’s putting in as much work as anybody, and we get to see it. I mean, he’s here a lot. I’m very excited for Gordon’s upcoming year.”

Guerschon Yabusele is participating in practice. 

Guerschon Yabusele, the most experienced NBA player on Boston’s summer league roster, did indeed practice on Tuesday. Morrison said Yabusele came in a little sore but is expected to also practice on Wednesday. 

Tremont Waters got some recognition. 

Asked if there have been any standouts after four days of practice, Morrison gave point guard Tremont Waters a shoutout. 

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“It feels good to get that compliment starting out early,” said Waters, who was selected with the 51st pick in the draft. “It gives me more confidence to come out and just play my game.” 

Morrison highlighted Waters’s “nifty passes” and his ability to make the right play. 

“A lot of people have a knock on him because he’s smaller [5-foot-11], and maybe that’s why he didn’t get drafted higher,” Morrison said. “But I’m a sucker for guys that can make good reads.” 

Waters admitted the transition from the NCAA to the NBA was “a little difficult at first,” as he tried to navigate when to push the ball and when to let the defense dictate the offensive sets, but noted he feels like he’s loosened up. 

With the Celtics’ 15-man roster almost at capacity, there may not be a spot for Waters in Boston. He could fill the second of two two-way openings, splitting time with the Maine Red Claws in the G-League.

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In two seasons at LSU, Waters averaged 15.6 points and 5.9 assists per game. 

Max Strus is getting his feet wet. 

The first of Boston’s two two-way openings belongs to guard Max Strus, who went undrafted after playing two seasons at DePaul. 

Morrison said Strus went through his first full practice on Tuesday and is expected to go through his first live action on Wednesday. Tabbing Strus as “a potential three-and-D guy,” Morrison is hopeful the 6-foot-6 swingman can get some solid reps before the fall. 

“I’m really hoping he can get out there and play,” Morrison said. “I think he’s probably going to be a steal if he’s healthy.”