Shooting has been an issue for the Boston Celtics all season, primarily due to some of their better marksmen being out of rhythm to start the season.
But, the Celtics’ limited shooting off the bench has also been a primary concern for fans, especially since Aaron Nesmith has regressed as a shooter this season. However, over the past few weeks, things have begun to look better for the Celtics, with multiple players progressing to the mean from three-point range, most notably Derrick White.
Yet, another player has proven that he can be a viable floor-spacer for the Celtics off the bench, regardless of his shortcomings elsewhere on the floor. Sam Hauser began the season as an undrafted rookie on a two-way contract for the Celtics, but has managed to claw his way into a full-time NBA deal, and has recently been seeing the floor and hitting his shots. For reference, Hauser is shooting 43.8% from deep over his last 10 games on 1.6 attempts per game.
According to Masslive’s Brian Robb, the rookie sharpshooter has a long way to go before usurping Nesmith in the team’s depth chart, but if Hauser continues to knock down his looks at a high-clip, his skillset will be hard for the coaching staff to ignore.
“A guy who can reliably stretch the floor. Hauser has a long way to go to pass Nesmith on the depth chart from a defensive perspective but he showed enough for the team to give him an NBA deal midway through this season when roster spots opened up after the trade deadline. He’s already 24 years old so how much more development is there remains to be seen but if he can ultimately serve as a reliable bench shooting weapon for Ime Udoka, that’s a big win for Boston’s scouting staff,” Robb wrote in a recent article.
Nesmith is More Than Just a Shooter
Unlike Hauser, Nesmith is more than just a shooter, despite his pre-draft reputation. Since entering the league, the Vanderbilt product has shown an ability to score across all three levels and hold his own on the defensive end of the floor.
In fact, as a rookie, Nesmith impressed so much that people began to think of him as a two-way wing prospect, rather than a movement shooter in the mold of the Miami Heat‘s Duncan Robinson. Regardless of his upside, Nesmith’s route to consistent playing time this season was based on his ability to knock down his shots and remain viable on the defensive end, something which he’s been unable to show.
As such, Hauser’s consistency from deep has seen him begin to earn more chances in the rotation, especially when the team is struggling for spacing. Of course, neither Nesmith nor Hauser projects to be rotation pieces during the playoffs.
However, depending on matchups, injuries, or the flow of a game, one of them might be needed for spot minutes to provide some scoring energy, and if that is the case we should expect it to be Hauser who gets the opportunity.
Celtics Learning From Past Mistakes
The ghost of Max Strus still haunts the halls of the Celtics front office – a cost-controlled sharpshooter who went from a two-way contract into being a valuable member of an NBA rotation after the Celtics cut him from their roster.
It looks like Brad Stevens wants to avoid that scenario taking place again with Hauser, which is why we’re likely to see the rookie shooter remain with the team beyond this season, especially as the team continues to build out their roster into one capable of contending for a championship in the future.
“They (the Celtics) are going to need players like this (Hauser) more and more in the next few years with the team in luxury tax territory, meaning there will be minimal money to spend in free agency. Trading away first-round picks the past two years (for good reason) adds to the importance of Hauser as well,” Robb wrote in a recent article.
Hopefully, Boston can find ways to incorporate both Nesmith and Hauser into their rotation next season, but judging on what we’ve seen this year if Udoka can only make room for one of them, the two young shooters are in for one heck of a roster battle.