Sam Hauser's primary job for the Boston Celtics is to knock down open shots. But it's Hauser's growth in the other parts of his game that caught Jayson Tatum's attention Friday night.
After the Celtics' 123-119 win over the Chicago Bulls at TD Garden, Tatum pointed to a subtle play that Hauser made early in the second half that highlighted the improvement Hauser has made as a playmaker.
"Obviously he hit some shots, and we know Sam can really shoot," Tatum told reporters. "But the best play I think Sam made was, he came off a DHO (dribble hand-off) in the first half and I think they blitzed it, and he backed out and threw it over the top of Luke (Kornet) and Luke got fouled. And I told him, ‘Now you playing basketball.’
"I don’t know if he would have done that last season. It just shows how hard he’s worked this offseason to earn that opportunity and make the most of it."
Hauser has mostly been a spot-up shooter early in his NBA career, but the Celtics have entrusted the 24-year-old wing with more playing time in his second NBA season, and he's responded by rounding out his game.
Hauser has played at least 18 minutes in two of Boston's last three games, tallying a total of nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in those contests in addition to 17 points.
If Hauser can be a quality facilitator in addition to a knock-down shooter, that's a huge benefit to the Celtics' bench unit, which is thriving under point guard Malcolm Brogdon with the NBA's fifth-best net rating.
It's a testament to Tatum's leadership that he recognized this subtle play from Hauser and gave him props for making it, so hopefully Hauser will be motivated to make more winning plays for Boston going forward.