Celtics Prospect’s 3-Point Touch Tops NBA Rookies, Offers Upside

Sam Hauser Celtics

Getty Images Sam Hauser of the Celtics talks with Ryan Arcidiacono during a preseason game against the Toronto Raptors

In a 127-121 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics’ undrafted rookie Sam Hauser turned in the best performance of his young career.

With All-Star Jayson Tatum out of the lineup, last Thursday night was a perfect opportunity for Boston’s two-way player to strut his stuff. Hauser netted a career-high 11 points on 4-of-5 attempts, including three 3-pointers in 18 minutes.

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Celtics’ Sam Hauser: ‘I Dreamed of Being on This Stage’

The Wisconsin native didn’t disappoint with friends and family in attendance.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Hauser said, per Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Ben Steele. “You dream of being an NBA player. I was growing up a basketball player my whole life, so I dreamed of being on this stage. Having it come full circle, playing against the Bucks in front of my family and friends, it was just a really, really cool experience.

“Never take it for granted, ever. There’s a lot of people that would love to trade places with me. That’s why I try to take it one day at a time and get better and better.”

Averaging 10.8 minutes in the Celtics’ last six games, Sam has undoubtedly taken advantage of his uptick in playing time of late. He averaged 5.3 points; however, Hauser also drained eight 3-pointers in that span, which propelled the former University of Virginia Cavalier onto a new plateau among NBA rookies.

Hauser’s outside touch gives Celtics head coach Ime Udoka an intriguing option for the postseason. Playing in 26 games with Boston, Hauser made 43.2% of his 3-pointers, according to Basketball-Reference.com. This season, this tops all rookies in the 3-point percentage who’ve attempted at least 44 threes.

While Udoka’s tight player rotation rarely makes room for guaranteed playing time for Hauser, that’s something the rookie head coach should reconsider ahead of the playoffs.

Ime Udoka on Sam Hauser: ‘His Shooting Stands Out’

Without Rob Williams (meniscus) throughout the Celtics’ first-round matchup, Udoka will need to counteract what Boston will be missing on the defensive end with efficient shooting from the second unit on the opposite end, as Ime’s bench thins more so with the absence of Rob.

“His shooting stands out,” Udoka said, per Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Elite shooter. Been that since we’ve had him in the building and also with the G Leauge team. He’s a very cerebral player across the board. He’s fit in well, the games that he’s played. Early in the season when guys were injured, we plugged him right in and didn’t really miss a beat as far as defensively and some of the things we were looking for. Always in the right spot.”

However, Udoka also credits Sam’s game for its extension beyond 3-point shooting.

“Great team defender. Knows how to use himself and his angles and is a cerebral guy,” Udoka added. “Like I said, not just offensively but defensively as well. He’s a guy we’re comfortable putting in with starters and other guys at any time of the game. Shooting is always there but it’s more than that, he’s a well-rounded player.”

The Celtics will take on the winner of the Brooklyn Nets vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Play-in game Tuesday. Boston’s first-round, best-of-7 series begins Sunday, April 17 at TD Garden.