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CelticsBlog roundtable: who will be the backup wing in Boston’s rotation?

Sam Hauser seems to be the likely candidate, but could rookie Jordan Walsh or recent signee Oshae Brissett step in?

Boston Celtics vs Toronto Raptors Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Bill Sy: Hey, Guy and Oliver. Welcome to CelticsBlog! Let’s get introductions out of the way. How long have you guys been fans of the team and what’s your favorite memory so far?

Oliver Fox: Happy to be here! I was born in Boston so I’ve been a card-carrying fan since February 13th, 2003. My first real memory was the 2010 Finals, but best memory? May 21, 2017, when Avery Bradley hit a game-winning-buzzer-beating triple that bounced about a million times on the rim before going down. The C’s had just dropped both games at home and were down 2-0, so that was a positively electric shot to stay alive in the series. I ran around the living room like you can’t believe.

Guy DePlacido: Like Oliver, I was also born in the area so I’ve always technically been a fan but I really started supporting them in 2000 when I started playing basketball myself. This is probably a cliche answer but my favorite memory is the Paul Pierce wheelchair game. Pierce is my favorite athlete of all time across all the sports so that was a really special moment.

Bill Sy: Well, that just dates me. Pierce will always mark a time in my life when the team’s superstar was my age and I promise you guys, it just changes your entire perspective of their career. But that’s a great segue into what we’re going to talk about today. I figured a good intro to CB would be discussing three players that could get full-time introductions into the Celtics rotation: Sam Hauser, Oshae Brissett, and the rookie, Jordan Walsh. It’s early and obviously way too early to tell, but who do you guys see taking that ninth-man slot as the backup wing?

Guy DePlacido: I could see Hauser taking that 9th spot. Despite a tough stretch in December and January last season where he shot 28% and 31% respectively, he still managed to end the year shooting 41.8% from beyond the arc.

With the addition of Porzingis who can also create his own shot, it is more important than ever to have catch and shoot guys on the floor and Hauser provides exactly that.

Oliver Fox: Give me Jordan Walsh over the field, mostly because of his upside as a defender more than anything the Celtics need offensively. Hauser will probably get the nod early in the season while Walsh gets acquainted, but I’m going into this year with the fervent hope that Joe Mazzulla won’t play guys simply because they’ve been around longer.

2023 NBA Summer League - Boston Celtics v Orlando Magic Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The number of times Mazzulla’s deference to Marcus Smart in moments when Derrick White was plainly better caused the Celtics’ downfall… is not a number I actually know of the top of my head. But it happened more than it should have. Walsh has a chance to be something really impactful in this league, and—while I love the guy—I already know the player Hauser is. It’s time to find out who Walsh will be.

Guy DePlacido: I’m sure we will see Walsh at some point and I would never argue about the defensive upside with Walsh over Hauser. Based on Summer League play, it seems more than likely we will see the Celtics roll with a lot more zone defense than we have seen in the past. Porzingis is an excellent pick and roll defender but isn’t someone that you want on an island at the top of the key.

I can see the Celtics hiding Hauser in a zone defense similar to how the Heat hid Herro and Robinson. Honestly, none of their guards are very good defenders but the Heat’s zone worked so well. We saw a lot of zone in Summer League and there is no way they would roll that out just to get a win. They want to get these guys ready for NBA time so I can see Hauser translating into that more often.

Oliver Fox: I’m just not sure Hauser’s offensive upside is great enough to warrant having to “hide him” in a zone if it’s schematically worse in a playoff series. Maybe this is too severe, but my entire worldview is based on the question “can this dude play in a playoff series” and I don’t see Hauser as that guy.

I was likewise hopeful that Hauser could provide prime Duncan Robinson (I can’t believe I just said “Prime Duncan Robinson”) production for what effectively no money or commitment, but those cold stretches where he was barely cracking 30% from downtown can torpedo a whole bench shift. Walsh has the chance to take on the Jimmy Butler, Donovan Mitchell, dare I say even Giannis tier guys and make them work for 20 minutes. I love that.

Guy DePlacido: He is far too skinny to defend Giannis but I do think he can hang in some lineups. I do think you need floor spacers on the offensive end and, although he had a great summer league, I don’t see Walsh’s 3pt% being high enough for Mazzulla to stick him out there.

Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Bill Sy: Maybe the happy medium between Hauser and Walsh is Oshae Brissett. He’s not the greatest shooter, but he’s two years removed from shooting over 42% from 3 at a pretty high volume. He’s a long and lanky 6’7 capable of defending most second unit wings. He’s a four-year veteran and while he’s new in Boston, his corporate knowledge of the entire NBA could be valuable to a team with championship aspirations.

Guy DePlacido: I’m actually very high on Brissett. I could absolutely see him jumping in and getting some time.

For me, while I love the pick and think Walsh will turn into a solid player, I don’t think this year is going to be a big performance year. I can’t see more than 5 minutes every other game for him.

Oliver Fox: I also like Brissett as a prototype-player, but the sample size on his 42% shooting season is what concerns me. He only appeared in 21 games that season, and the two seasons after—in both of which he played 65+ games—he shot a much more pedestrian 35% and 31% respectively. But he did baptize Jakob Poeltl like you cannot imagine, so I’m open to a contender-leap from him.

Bill Sy: Well, here’s another consideration: the new CBA. Brissett could be in Boston for just a cup of coffee with a player option for next season. Hauser has a team option for next season which they’ll most likely pick up. Walsh, however, signed a four-year contract and will be a developmental piece at a cost-effective price when the Jays’ supermax contracts hit the cap together in 2025.

Guy DePlacido: That is why I still see Hauser as that 9th man. They would be silly to move off of Hauser’s very cheap contract. He also hasn’t proved so much that he would demand a lot in free agency once that time comes so he very feasibly could be on the Celtics for a long time.

Oliver Fox: Walsh’s deal is honestly the most attractive to me, as the team probably wants to hit it’s absolute peak world-destroying powers two years from now, when Tatum is 27 and Brown 28. NBA history tells us that is when a guy is truly at their pinnacle, and Walsh will be locked down through that season and the next. I’m not implying that this team is two years away from real contention… they’re actually two years removed from starting that era. But I wouldn’t be shocked if the organization doesn’t pony up for a long term extension if Walsh’s summer league shooting wasn’t just an apparition. He’s a longer term replacement that perfectly fits the timeline.

Guy DePlacido: Part of the allure to me about Walsh’s contract is the ability for him to spend as much time in Maine as he wants. I genuinely see him playing more games in Maine than in Boston this year.

Oliver Fox: Obviously, we’re talking about the 9th man here, so in the playoffs it’s very unlikely any of these guys come within a mile of real minutes. But during the regular season, I’d love if the C’s gave Walsh a chance to make an impact sometime in the December-January range. I still think Hauser and Brissett are solid pieces, and we’ll just have to see if they can improve in a real way during next season. Ironically, the best argument for and against Walsh is that he’s a rookie. Could he be great? Yes. Could he be a total disaster? Also yes. But from where I’m standing, deal me in on the dice roll.

Bill Sy: Let’s not forget that — wait for it — he’s only 19. I think Walsh is going to be a contributor, but it might be a little early. You guys, on the other hand, are game ready and I’m sure we’ll see you often in the CelticsBlog rotation. Thanks, guys.

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