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Stop sleeping on Sam Hauser

NBC Sport’s Travis Hines released a preliminary Big East report┬áthis week that was all sorts of comical and poorly researched, which I took some Tweets to dunk on.

But there was one error of omission that spoke volumes in its silence. In the 1,800 plus words on all thing Big East, the name Sam Hauser did not appear once. It’s bad enough to not include Sam in any sort of lookahead, but with the amount of attrition of top-10 and top-20 Big East talent going into next season, there really are no excuses.

Returning Big East Talent.jpg

Every single name not crossed off in the image above was mentioned in the piece except for Hauser, who just happens to be the best returning player (in terms of TRank’s PORPAGATU! stat). It’s ok to disagree that Hauser will be the best player in the Big East next season, or even the most efficient with significant usage, but ignoring him completely tells me all I need to know.

And yet, it seems to me that even the diehards that are frequenting non-draft cbb Twitter in April and May are not yet on the Hauser bandwagon. Barstool Sports’ Bobby Reagan didn’t have Hauser on his initial All-Big East First Team.

More surprisingly, Big East media maven John Fanta also put Sam outside of his top 5.

I do realize that I’m extremely biased for things Marquette, and particularly for all things Hauser, so I (and Cracked Sidewalks) pushed back a little bit wondering what the logic behind it was.

Obviously it’s extremely silly to be arguing about hypothetical First Team nods in April and May, when we not only don’t know which players will be there, but we don’t even get a vote. But the larger point I’m still trying to draw out, is that Hauser, despite being one of the most lethally efficient scorers in the country for two straight years, still doesn’t get looked at as an elite player on his own, but rather a product of his team and sharp-shooting teammates.

And sure, sharing the court with Rowsey and Howard does open up a lot of space, but Hauser has been far from a one-trick pony standing outside the arc, waiting to be fed. I started nibbling at it last year, but Sam’s trajectory is already far ahead of Steve Novak’s. Before you recoil at the blasphemy, check out the advanced numbers for their freshmen and sophomore years.

Capture.JPG

The numbers don’t lie. At the same stage of their career, Sam was a better shooter, rebounder, passer and defender. The biggest area of differentiation is the number of 2-point shots and makes. Novak was almost exclusively one dimensional, making 29 twos on 83 attempts. Hauser almost doubled the attempts and nearly tripled the makes each of their first two seasons.

I wouldn’t say Hauser has the ability to beat defenders off the dribble, but he’s tremendous with his back to the basket and adept at finding angles to get his shot off around the basket, despite average to below average athleticism.

And I think that’s the thing that causes people to underestimate his potential. He doesn’t jump out of the gym. He doesn’t make athletic plays that drop your jaw. He’s just fundamentally sound in every aspect. But don’t let that lack of hops blind you into devaluing his potential, particularly at the college level.

This piece focuses on Mikal Bridges, but is a tremendous look at the offensive components that traditional 3-and-D guys at the NBA level have exhibited at the collegiate level. I have linked to it a few times this year, but I highly recommend another read.

Here are the Synergy stats that piece notes for offensive Off Screen possessions.

Off Screen.jpg

And here are Hauser’s numbers for comparison.

Hauser Screen.JPG

Sam’s sophomore season had the 3rd most possessions and 2nd most points of the 3-and-D group. As a pure scorer off of screens, he was in the top tier. The one caveat here is that most of Hauser’s points off of screens came off of slipped picks set for Rowsey, rather than hitting a running Hauser off of screens. But it’s undeniable that given any type of space, Hauser could make any team pay.

And here are the Synergy stats for offensive Jumpers Off Dribble possessions.

Off Dribble.jpg

And here are Hauser’s numbers for comparison.

Hauser Dribble.JPG

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted to see Hauser nearly matched senior season Wes Matthews’ attempts for jumpers off the dribble, with much better results. Sam just doesn’t have the handles or athleticism to blow past players off the dribble, but the stats show he has the wherewithal to use his dribble to at least create enough space to get a shot off. His PPP was 2nd of all players on the list above with at least 25 possessions.

Of course, Hauser is playing in a much more scoring friendly era, so it’s not an apples to apples comparison, particular in Wojo’s offense-friendly system. But his results and growth speak for themselves, no matter what era you’re in.

Sam Hauser is already ahead of Steve Novak’s trajectory on both ends of the court, and his offensive game meshes positively with 3-and-D peers who have thrived in the NBA. He is one of the most efficient and potent scorers returning next season and he may be fully healthy for the first time in his career.

Sleep on him all you want, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

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