Insider Steve Bulpett will answer your questions — those pertaining to current league issues and even some off-beat perspective and opinion from his 37 years covering the NBA. (Want to know what former league city he misses most? Want to know about the Celtics’ first-ever trip to Sacramento?)
We’ll try to tackle it all here in the Heavy mailbag.
Leave your questions in the comments section below or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
Has Sam Hauser’s Time Arrived?
Have we seen enough of Sam Hauser now to know he needs minutes? If he goes in and out of the lineup, isn’t that going to kill his shot?
As I type this, I’m sitting on press row at the Celtics’ Wednesday preseason game against Toronto. There’s 8:10 left in the fourth quarter, and this Hauser dude of which you speak has taken seven 3-pointers and made five of them. That’s, uh, rather good.
But he was 4-for-5 from beyond the arc on Sunday against Charlotte, so clearly he’s cooled off.
All alleged humor aside, Hauser has an utterly smooth stroke from distance. In what figures to be a crowded Celtic rotation, even with Danilo Gallinari out, he has earned the right to have a role until he plays his way out of it (if he ever does).
The key with him — as with all shooters — is committing to giving them their looks. That was a problem for Ime Udoka with Payton Pritchard last season. Pritchard was buried early in the season, played well for a long stretch after Dennis Schroder was traded, then got put in a lesser role at various times in the playoffs, particularly in the Finals.
Aaron Nesmith was sent away without ever getting a true consistent chance to be the shooter they said he was coming out of Vanderbilt.
Hauser doesn’t have to play a ton to be effective, but he needs regular minutes. Beyond making a good percentage, he will need to play enough defense to remain a meaningful part of the bench brigade.
Oh, and though he went on to miss another trey Wednesday, Hauser had a key three-point play on a drive to give the Celts a late fourth quarter lead. He finished with 22 points in 26 minutes as the C’s fell to the Raptors in overtime, 125-119 — and he should have seen the ball more than he did in OT.
Missing Out on Max Strus
Max Strus is a starter for Miami. He’s a good player and the Celtics could use him off their bench. Why did they let him go when they had him under contract?
Strus and Duncan Robinson are the kind of shooters the Heat brings in and nurtures. There is reason to wonder whether Strus would have ever gotten a real chance in Boston.
Though one could argue the Celtics missed on him, he was largely a victim of circumstances. Strus arrived in the summer of 2019 as an undrafted free agent. He certainly played well enough at summer league to deserve his two-way contract, but when the club decided it wanted to keep Tacko Fall for a longer look, the (very) big man got the two-way deal, and Strus was converted to a regular contract.
The final roster spot came down to Strus vs. Javonte Green, and the C’s decided to go with Green, who has gone on to carve out a nice career with Chicago.
Jaylen Brown looks like he wants to shut up everyone who wanted him to be traded for Durant. He looks good when he’s mad. Doesn’t he?
Brown has looked good, period, this preseason. In addition to being ridiculously efficient — 17 for 25 from the floor in the two exhibitions — he just seems more decisive.
Chips on shoulders can be very helpful, as long as they don’t begin to weigh a player down. As long as Brown stays in the offensive system that the Celtics hope includes even more movement this year, he stands a very good chance of finding his way back into the All-Star Game.
But as I’m sure Brown and all the Celts realize, it really don’t mean a thing if you don’t get a ring. And while people will focus a lot on Jaylen’s work with the ball, his strength on defense will also have a lot to say about whether the Bostonians earn some jewelry.
And, yeah, the Celtics’ matchups with Durant and the Nets, better equipped with Ben Simmons in the lineup and Joe Harris healthy, will be very interesting, indeed.