More challenges await for Boston Celtics sharpshooter Sam Hauser

Boston Celtics forward Sam Hauser Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics forward Sam Hauser Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

Since the very beginning of his tenure with the Boston Celtics, Sam Hauser has always let the city know that challenges don’t phase him. After starting out on a two-way contract, Hauser impressed the team to the point where they converted his two-way deal to a standard contract mid-season, then gave him a three-year deal the following summer. That’s not a walk in the park.

But, even then, Hauser’s new payday in 2022 didn’t make many shockwaves. His name wasn’t mentioned much until Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL during the 2022 FIBA Tournament. Though Hauser was who the Celtics designated as their prized addition’s replacement, many initially clamored for Carmelo Anthony because his skillset was similar to Gallinari’s, and the Cs would at least have known what they were getting in him compared to Hauser.

Hauser’s lack of experience was a justified concern. At the same time, he only had two things to prove:

  1. That he could fill in well enough in Gallinari’s role to diminish his absence
  2. That he could hold his own defensively.

TLDR: Hauser rose to the occasion. His dead-eye three-point shooting prowess – 41.8% from distance on 4.2 attempts a game per – lived up to the hype, but that was to be expected. His individual defense was what many were paying close attention to. While not elite, Hauser held his own, which was all that mattered. Per, opponents targeted Hauser in isolation in 18.9% of his defensive possessions. Only three players in the league were targeted more frequently – Nic Claxton, Usman Garuba, and Zeke Nnaji – and yet Hauser allowed a respectable 0.92 points per possession.

Hauser was thrust into a bigger role than the Boston Celtics initially planned to give him, but he proved that he was more than ready for it. Although, while he was up for the challenge, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the second-year pro.

It seems like a distant memory now, but there was a prolonged stretch where Hauser’s 3-ball straight-up abandoned him. From November 30, 2022, to February 3, 2023, Hauser shot 29.2% from distance, per Since Hauser’s floor spacing was why he saw the floor, the bricks he laid were not a pleasant sight.

While he eventually got past that, another issue was that Joe Mazzulla did not trust him in the 2023 playoffs, with his role diminishing with every preceding series. He went from 10.5 minutes a game against the Hawks to 4.8 against the 76ers to 4.4 against the Heat.

Okay, in all fairness, expecting an undrafted free agent to go from an end-of-the-bench body to a consistent playoff contributor in his second year in the NBA is a tall order, so Hauser has earned some much-deserved slack in that regard. However, following all the changes the Celtics made, a new challenge is on the horizon for Hauser – is he capable of a potentially even bigger role?

Sam Hauser may have an open path to minutes on the Boston Celtics in 2023-24

The Boston Celtics shored up their frontcourt this summer, adding Kristaps Porzingis while losing Marcus Smart and Grant Williams, among others. Losing two rotation players while adding an injury-prone star big man like Porzingis could potentially open more minutes for Hauser. Coming off a season where he exceeded expectations, it’s definitely worth a look.

On July 30, CelticsBlog’s Wayne Spooney did an excellent job explaining how Hauser could not only replace the production of the departed Williams but could also reach a new level with a bigger role. And it’s true. There is potential for Hauser to be even better in an expanded role if he can capitalize on his surprisingly steady season last year. Being a threat from distance while not being an obvious weakness on defense helps his case there. But knowing who else the Celtics added this offseason would indicate that it’s far from a sure thing that Hauser’s role will expand or that he will have the same role as last season.

Besides Porzingis, the Boston Celtics put an emphasis on adding length and athleticism this summer along the wing. Jordan Walsh, Oshae Brissett, and Dalano Banton are all springy athletes with long wingspans whose builds make their potential exciting, particularly on defense. And they all happen to be around the exact same height as Hauser.

This does not mean that they will get the nod over Hauser. He has continuity and a usually reliable three-ball in his arsenal, and those three don’t. However, their additions could indicate, above all else, that Hauser will have to consistently prove himself the better option to keep his spot.

While Hauser may have the inside track to being in the rotation, nothing is guaranteed. As impressive as he was, he got his role in the rotation last year because of a tragic twist of fate. But even so, he’s proven he can handle things on his end. He just has to do it again, and if he proves he’s up for it, there could be more in store for him with the Celtics.

It would be a lot for an NBA player with only one real year of experience under his belt to have to prove that not only is he a still dependable rotation player but is capable of doing more. Luckily for Hauser, knowing all that he’s already accomplished, that’s just Tuesday.