Outside of the occasional out-of-region upset (sorry, Phoenix), the NBA preseason doesn’t really mean anything. It’s a time for coaches to take a look at new lineups, players to test out new moves, and fans to get amped up for the season ahead.
For the Boston Celtics, all of those meanings have been amplified. Joe Mazzulla has been thrust into the head coach’s chair and will have to get used to the new role, Boston is working through multiple injuries and new additions to the team, and after a rough stretch of weeks to end the summer, fans need a reason to be excited again.
Boston’s first preseason game was the perfect start. They toppled the Charlotte Hornets, winning 134-93. And while Jaylen Brown’s 24 points stole the show, one of the most important subplots of the contest was Sam Hauser’s performance.
Hauser dropped 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from three-point range. The 24-year-old sharpshooter did exactly what he was supposed to do - nail shots from behind the three-point line. He even looked solid on the defensive end of the floor.
Sam Hauser is COOKING! pic.twitter.com/nMOFmRY03Z— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 2, 2022
Hauser said it was good to be back out there with his teammates, and seeing shots fall was a great confidence booster.
“It’s only one game, but it was good to get back out there and play with these guys and get used to playing with them and off of them. Making some shots help. Good confidence booster and hopefully can keep it rolling.”
When the Celtics signed Danilo Gallinari this summer, the goal was to add some shooting with size — something Danny Ainge mentioned as a constant goal during his time in Boston. Unfortunately, the veteran forward tore his ACL while playing for Italy at EuroBasket.
Immediately, many fans turned to Hauser as the saving grace. After his impressive game against the Hornets, the hype around Hauser is only going to increase.
Heading into his second year in the league, Hauser noted that the game already feels a lot slower than it did during his rookie season.
“I think the game has slowed down a little bit. I think that’s natural with basketball. Everything seemed a thousand miles an hour last year. You just get used to it, so I think just trying to be more comfortable and being around these guys more have helped.”
In his rookie season, Hauser only appeared in 26 regular-season games for the Celtics, playing just 6.1 minutes per contest. That being said, he put up great numbers in the G League. In his 13 games with the Maine Celtics, Hauser averaged 20.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists on 46.0% shooting from the field and 40.7% shooting from deep on a high volume of 10.8 three-pointers per game.
Hauser showed unwavering confidence against the Hornets, shooting the ball almost as soon as it touched his fingertips. Having a shooter as confident and capable as Hauser is very useful in Boston’s lineup.
After the game, Mazzulla said that Hauser looked good, noting that he tried hard to be in the right spots and make the right plays.
“Thought he played well, I thought he was in the right spot, tried to make the right play. You know, like you said, that we have a bunch of guys that have the ability to make shots and we really played well together. And so he fits right into that.”
Mazzulla wasn’t the only one who spoke highly of Hauser after the contest. Derrick White said that Hauser is automatic in practice and that having a year of experience should help those results translate to the court.
“Sam, in open gym, didn’t seem like he ever misses. He didn’t miss much last year. And so just getting that year under his belt, being more assertive, and more sure of himself.”
Big man Luke Kornet, who played with Hauser in the G League, also had some high praise for the shooter. He said that he’s excited for Hauser to get more opportunities because it should help him improve even more and show off his talent.
“I’m really excited for Samuel David Hauser. And hopefully just to see him continue growing as a player. Coming from last year, I think he just got better, every step along the way, and I’m hoping that more opportunity kind of opens it up so that he can continue to do that.”
At 6-foot-7 and with an extremely quick release, Hauser has a chance to fit seamlessly into Boston’s offensive system. The Celtics run a drive-and-kick offense, so if he can live behind the three-point line, all he’ll have to do is stay ready and shoot the ball when it swings around to him.
Grant Williams enjoyed success of a similar nature last season, finishing as one of the league’s top three-point shooters. And while Hauser doesn’t provide the same defensive presence of Williams, if he can be passable on that end, his offense will be enough to keep him on the floor.