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Can Sam Hauser develop into a rotation player for the Celtics?

With a three-year deal in his pocket, the former two-way player is now looking to make major contributions to a contender.

2022 NBA Finals - Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Jaylen Brown. Jayson Tatum. Robert Williams. Sam Hauser.

That’s the list.

Over the last five seasons, only those four players have been drafted (or signed after going undrafted) and re-signed after their rookie deals were completed, but Sam Hauser might have the most impressive story.

After going undrafted last summer coming out of Virginia (including three seasons at Marquette and a red shirt year), Hauser signed a two-way deal with Boston and shuttled between the big club and Maine last season before converting it into a rest-of-the-regular-season contract after the trade deadline. In a couple of days, he’ll sign a reported three-year, $6 million deal (two years guaranteed) with the Celtics.

Boston’s commitment to Hauser is just another sign of President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens’ philosophy of targeting and investing in players long term. Whether it’s lengthy extensions to Williams and Marcus Smart last summer or trading for Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon with several years left on their deals, Stevens has been decisive in recognizing what he wants and locking them in.

Hauser will be the elder statesman of this July’s Summer League squad in Las Vegas, but even with the ink drying on a long term deal, he’s still going to The Strip with an edge. “Just to show that I belong,” he said as the Celtics complete practice at the Auerbach Center before heading out west. “Obviously with the new deal, I’m going to be here for a couple more years, so I just want to prove what I belong, hopefully work a way into the rotation somehow, some way. I’m just going to show what I can do best.”

What Hauser does best is shoot. In a very small sample size, Hauser hit 19-of-44 threes in his limited action in the NBA, but those numbers weren’t an anomaly. In thirteen games in the G-League, he averaged 20 points on 46% shooting (41% from behind the arc). With his extended range, the 6’8” Hauser is also an effective back door cutter.

On Thursday, Hauser laughed at social media comparisons to former Celtic Gordon Hayward. He’s got a long way to go to becoming an All-Star, but motivated by the team’s faith in him, he understands his path to success.

“First and foremost, it starts on the defensive end. We had the #1 or #2 defense all year last year, so that’s obviously a focal point of our team,” Hauser said. “Just being a great team defender and helping out where I can and then obviously being able to play next to guys like JT and JB and using my shooting to my advantage and open up the floor for them.”