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Sam Hauser is the secret weapon the C’s desperately need

After the Celtics 114-98 victory over the Knicks, head coach Joe Mazzulla hilariously played coy over the emergence of sharpshooter and defensive stopper.

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

With the abundance of talent on this Celtics roster, there’s one secret weapon, and that’s sharpshooter Sam Hauser.

An undrafted free agent, Hauser signed a two-way contract with the Celtics in 2021. Now in his third season in the NBA, the forward has become a dependable role player in Joe Mazzulla’s rotation. It’s clear Brad Stevens saw the potential when he inked Hauser to a three-year, $6 million dollar contract last year. With Boston in the second apron, just under 6 million dollars is looking like steal for the 3 & D player. Clutch shooting and solid defense are generally what wins games in the margins.

While many think he’s simply a shooter, Hauser is a defensive juggernaut. First, let’s break down his contributions on the offensive end.

Yes, October was a rough month for Hauser. Although a small sample size, the Celtics swingman shot 25 percent from the field and 20 percent from distance in three matchups. Now ten games into the season, Hauser has become a consistent force on this team.

Through seven games in November, Hauser is shooting an astonishing 56.8 percent from beyond the arc, and 58.3 percent from the field. Additionally, he’s averaging 12.1 points in just 20.9 minutes played this month. Hauser provides that electricity off the bench that C’s fans have been looking for. It’s a sigh of relief for a team that’s struggled to get adequate bench production.

What’s been the difference? The improvement in ball movement, trust, and confidence. Always on the fly, Hauser finds ways to get open, whether it’s cuts or utilizing off ball screens. With so much talent on the weak and strong side of the ball, the doubling of Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis alone has opened several shot opportunities for the forward. Out of any player, Hauser has arguably shown the most improvement since training camp. He’s proven to be one of the best spot up shooters in the league, ranking fourth in spot up frequency at 58.6 percent.

To highlight his consistency, the former Virginia Cavalier had back-to-back 12 point games against the New York Knicks and the Toronto Raptors. Coincidentally, he shot 66.7 percent from the field and downtown in both matchups. He’s scored points in double-figures every night except the C’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.

The departure of Grant Williams, Marcus Smart, and Malcom Brogdon primed Hauser for a sizeable role this year. Although the Celtics haven’t had much production from their bench in terms of points scored, Hauser leads the Celtics bench with 9.6 per game. For a Boston team that’s extremely top heavy, the wingman has proven his value and legitimacy in the chase for Banner 18.

Although he’s mostly establish himself as a sniper, Hauser is an extremely underrated defender. As elite as the C’s were last season, did you know the Wisconsin native had the second best defensive rating on the roster? And here we are into the new season, and Hauser is showing why he’s a perfect fit with a team that embraces defensive toughness.

Hauser’s defensive abilities were showcased on Monday night against the Knicks. At 6 foot 7, Number 30 has shown on numerous occasions his excellent footwork and his ability to stay in front of defenders. Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and Immanuel Quickley were a combined 0-4 from the field against Hauser.

In Saturday’s victory over the Raptors, the wing held scorers to 25 percent field goal shooting, and had four contested shots. The bigger and stronger Pascal Siakam went 0-3 against Hauser.

Post game against the Knicks, Joe Mazzulla shed light on Hauser’s defensive capabilities, although its apparent he’s playing a bit of poker.

“I think he’s a much better defender than people think, I can’t say why, or else I’ll get in trouble,” Mazzulla told the media. “His technique and his ability to note tendencies, I feel just as comfortable with him guarding as anybody else. I’ve said it from Day 1, he’s a very good defender, underrated.”

Tied second overall with the Orlando Magic in defensive efficiency, Boston is upholding their defensive goals set prior to the beginning of the season. According to NBA Stats, Hauser ranks in the top-10 (72 percentile) in isolation defense, limiting opponents to just 33 percent shooting.

“As he continues to get better, it makes our team better,” Mazzulla said.

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