Throughout the college season, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert has had the spotlight as this year’s “tall versatile shooter.” However, there is another player in a similar mold who deserves more attention: Virginia’s Sam Hauser.
Hauser is a native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. After high school, the 2016 4-star recruit committed to Marquette University. After three years as a starter for the Golden Eagles, and a 2018-19 All-Big East Second Team nod, Hauser opted to transfer to the University of Virginia. He was forced to sit out last season, but he quickly re-established himself as a star in the ACC this year. Now, Hauser will look to start his pro-basketball career.
- 218 lbs.
- Grew 4 inches between Freshman year of H.S. and Sophomore year of college
|Per Game||Per 100 Possessions|
|Field Goal Attempts||11.7||22.4|
|Free Throw Attempts||1.9 (.164 FTr)||3.7|
|Steals||0.6 (1.1 STL%)||1.1|
|Blocks||0.4 (1.4 BLK%)||0.8|
*via Sports Reference
% of FGM Unassisted: 41.5%
38.8% Assisted Threes
25.9% Unassisted Mid-Range
12.9% Assisted Mid-Range
11.6% Unassisted Rim
6.8% Assisted Rim
4.1% Unassisted Threes
The draw with Sam Hauser is obvious: the man can shoot. In 25 games this season, Hauser shot 41.7% from three on 11.6 attempts per 100 possessions and 89.6% from the foul line. What’s especially impressive about his shooting numbers is his year-to-year consistency. This is the fourth straight season in which he drilled over 40% of his threes and 80% of his free throws. In 126 career college games, Hauser shot 43.9% from three on over 700 attempts and 88.0% from the line on over 200 attempts.
Notice the wide variety of shot-type in each of these clips. Left, right, or backwards momentum? Yep. Off the pop? Check. Off of pin-downs? Of course.
Hauser was a weapon in Tony Bennet’s “blocker-mover” offense. The name of the scheme explains itself: Virginia’s interior players, who usually occupy each elbow, serve as “blockers,” setting screens for the perimeter players, or “movers.” Hauser’s ability to shoot off of motion allowed him to excel in this system. He is able to run around screens, get himself set, and fire away at an elite level. His shot-prep is ridiculously quick – he can sling it without having to slow down or stop to set his feet.
Hauser’s size helps him consistently get his shot off. Georgia Tech decided to stick ACC Defensive Player of the Year Jose Alvarado, a pesky 6’0” Guard, on Hauser. The idea was to combat Hauser’s movement shooting with a player who could navigate screens more efficiently than a typical college wing. The issue is that Hauser is 6’8”. In the play below, Alvarado sticks with him and gets a hand in his face, but Hauser’s release point is simply untouchable.
We’ve established that Hauser is an outstanding shooter off the catch, but what happens when he gets chased off the line? Virginia seemed to want Hauser to attack downhill against hard closeouts, but with his lack of burst and limitations as a ball-handler, generating quality looks inside the arc wasn’t always easy. A mere 13.4% of his FGA’s this season came at the rim. His 2-point shot diet consists mostly of mid-range pull-ups, post-fades, and awkward leaners. Hauser’s touch is so soft, however, that he’s able to hit these shots at an incredibly high rate. Hauser shot 59.6% from inside the arc this year, making 55.9% of his mid-range jumpers.
At the pro-level, I expect side-step threes like the one shown below to be more encouraged by his coaching staff.
Another thing that stands out about Hauser is his intelligence, which shows up on film in a variety of ways. For one, Hauser is one of the better off-ball movers in this entire class. He does an excellent job of moving to open space on the perimeter and looking for cutting opportunities. The second clip below is one of my favorites from this season. NC State’s Jericole Hellems anticipates that he will use his teammate’s screen to run to the wing, but Hauser is savvy enough to recognize this and adjust by fading to the corner.
Hauser is also a solid passer. His reads are more reactive than proactive, and he doesn’t have the handle to dish passes of a live dribble, but he’s a quick, fundamentally-sound decision-maker. He understands how to use his shooting gravity to create looks for his teammates.
This is something that I believe is under-evaluated with world-class 3-point marksman. If a player is a good enough off-ball shooter, they can put a defense in rotation. Take the play below for example – Hauser draws a triple-team, which leads to a lay-up for Casey Morsell.
Here’s where things get murky.
Hauser’s on-ball defense presents a classic dilemma. Is he strong enough to defend true Forwards or quick enough to defend guards or smaller wings? I’m a bit more comfortable projecting his survival in executing the latter. Hauser moves fairly well laterally and does a good job using his frame to cut-off drivers. Big wings give him more trouble than anyone. Hauser will be attacked by the Raiquan Gray-ish monster trucks of the world.
Hauser has put some impressive moments of off-ball chasing on tape. Here he does a great job fighting through a screen a blocking a jumper.
Often Virginia’s second-tallest player on the floor, Hauser was tasked with assisting Jay Huff as a secondary rim-protector this year. Hauser’s rim-rotations will be more impactful than your average guard on account of him being 6’8″, but he is mostly underwhelming protecting the basket from the weak side. When Hauser is late on a rotation, the play is over. Even when he is on time, his severe strength and pop deficiencies prevent him from creating much resistance.
My biggest concern regarding Hauser’s defense is his inability to cover ground. Virginia often plays Huff in above-the-screen coverages. When Huff is way out on the perimeter, it puts pressure on Virginia’s wings to defend the roller while also keeping track of their own man. Even if Hauser’s general positioning is fine, does he have the tools necessary to navigate between roller and shooter?
There have been 104 college players since 2008 to make over 40% of their threes on 500+ attempts while shooting 80% from the free-throw line. The list consists of many undersized 4-year mid-major guards who simply never had a chance of defending at the NBA level. So, let’s set some incredibly low statistical thresholds to try to weed some of these guys out. When we exclude players with steal rates and block rates both lower than 0.5% and Defensive BPM’s below 1, the list shrinks to just 15 players. These 15 are sorted by total BPM below.
*Courtesy of Barttorvik
Well, well, well, a whole bunch of NBA players. Just because Hauser’s stock rates and DBPM aren’t at the literal bottom of the ocean doesn’t mean that he’ll be a passable NBA defender, but nonetheless, they are encouraging indicators. This query also shows just how ridiculous of a gunner Hauser has the potential to be. This is probably as good a group of shooters as Barttorvik could allow one to create, and Hauser leads all qualifiers in 3-point percentage.
I think that Sam Hauser can be a real NBA rotation player. I’m not going to sit here and say that he absolutely needs to be a first-round pick, but he could very well return round one value in this class. Players with his intersection of size, decision-making, and out-of-this-world shooting ability don’t grow on trees.
Still, selecting Hauser doesn’t make much sense for certain teams. How much value does a 23-year old provide to a squad still years away from contention? Not only that, but contenders must consider his defensive fit. Hauser in Denver, for instance, could produce some ridiculous offensive line-ups, but how would the defense look in a hedge-heavy scheme with MPJ on the opposite wing?
For teams with enough rim-protection and versatile defenders on the wing, however, this is an incredible value play.
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Categories: NBA Draft