Sam Hauser has a golden opportunity with the Boston Celtics this season, especially if he can continue to be a consistent perimeter threat off the catch.
Throughout the Celtics opening pre-season game against the Charlotte Hornets on October 2, Hauser was an impressive shooting outlet and also showed some improved off-ball movement and on-ball defense.
According to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg, Hauser is unquestionably the biggest wildcard on the Celtics roster heading into the new season, with the sophomore forward capable of surprising a few people if given the opportunity.
“When we sat down with all the Celtics players last week for Media Day we did an informal poll about the player who would surprise us most this season. The most common response: Hauser…When Danilo Gallinari suffered the ACL tear that could sideline him the entire season, the spotlight shifted immediately to Hauser, who could get the first crack at filling those minutes. Hauser doesn’t have the post game of a Gallinari, nor the size to joust with 5s. But he can clearly shoot the ball and should get a whole bunch of good looks given the talent he’ll be running with,” Forsberg wrote.
If Hauser can prove capable of defending at a reasonable level, and staying in front of his man, then he will likely earn some increased playing time, and given his ability to knock down perimeter shots at a high clip, there’s every possibility he becomes an important part of Boston’s primary rotation next season.
Kabengele Looking to Impress
Another member of the Celtics roster that is looking to impress this year is 25-year-old center Mfiondu Kabengele, who joined the team on a two-way contract following an impressive Summer League in Las Vegas.
Where Hauser went into the off-season with a clear developmental plan on how to improve, Kabengele’s task was to find a team willing to take a chance on him and then work on his game to fit their system. And since joining up with his new teammates at training camp, it seems like Kabengele has been soaking up as much information as possible.
“I can ask him (Horford) any question, smart questions, dumb questions, he’ll answer it – he’s been really helpful since I’ve been here… Most of the questions I ask him are about pick-and-roll coverages, sometimes I have a hard time gauging where I should be at, playing cat-and-mouse with the ball-handler, and figuring out how I should guard it. Al gives me good tips on how I should angle it (his coverage) properly, especially with different personnel and stuff.
Rob’s been good because he’s been out because he watches practises while he does his rehab, he might give me a little comment here and there on what I can work on. So, Rob and Al have both been really helpful,” Kabengele said when asked if he’s trying to learn from the team’s veteran centers.
However, with Horford, Luke Kornet, and now Blake Griffin all in front of Kabengele in the rotation, he faces a challenge to earn regular-season playing time with the Celtics.
Blake Griffin Happy to Play His Part
While we’re on the topic of new additions for the Celtics, the organization officially announced the signing of Blake Griffin on October 3, with the veteran big man joining the team on a one-year deal.
Speaking to the media shortly after his arrival was announced, Griffin noted how he’s not expecting to play a significant role in the rotation, but rather, help provide some balance and security for the guys who project to play big minutes throughout the year.
“I can provide some stability off the bench. They obviously have centers in Robert Williams and Al Horford that have played big minutes…whatever they need, if Al needs a break, or if Rob needs a break, just some stability. I didn’t come here demanding a certain type of role – it was just to fill the gaps, and to help this team win a championship,” Griffin told reporters.
Still, with Griffin’s rebounding and passing ability, there will likely be plenty of minutes available for him during the regular season and throughout the playoffs – especially if Joe Mazzulla looks to manage the minutes of the aging Horford and injury-riddled Robert Williams. READ MORE.