Predicting Celtics' Breakout Players for 2022-23 NBA Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVOctober 13, 2022

Predicting Celtics' Breakout Players for 2022-23 NBA Season

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    Boston - June 16: The Celtics Robert Williams (left) is upset when he was called for a second quarter foul, teammate Grant Williams (right) tries to keep him away from the referee. The Boston Celtics hosted the Golden State Warriors for Game Six of the NBA Finals at the TD Garden in Boston on June 17, 2022. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
    Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    The Boston Celtics spent all of last season and the entirety of this summer in pursuit of an NBA championship.

    Those win-now intentions don't leave a lot of possibilities for breakout players on the roster.

    Most of the Shamrocks core is well-established at this point, but there are still players capable of making big leaps forward. The following three, for instance, could be on the verge of big breakthroughs.

Sam Hauser

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    CANTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Sam Hauser #30 of the Boston Celtics poses for a portrait on September 26, 2022 at High Output Studios in Canton, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

    Undrafted out of Virginia and inked to a two-way pact, Hauser went on to have a blink-and-you-missed-it kind of rookie season in Boston.

    He appeared in 26 games, but he only logged 158 minutes in total. His shooting rates looked good—46 percent overall, 43.2 percent from distance—but the volume was so low it was hard getting a clear read on them.

    That won't be the case this season. While Hauser was looking at a likely role increase once the club gave him a standard contract this summer, his potential floor time turned all the way up once Danilo Gallinari went down with a torn ACL.

    Just like that, the Celtics were in desperate need of a shooter with size, and the 6'8" Hauser is their best option to check that box. With a wealth of talent around him, he should be able to feast on open shots and potentially push those already impressive shooting rates even higher. If he winds up receiving more defensive attention than expected, he'll be even more helpful for keeping the heat off of Boston's stars.

Grant Williams

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 7:Grant Williams #12 of the Boston Celtics dribbles the ball against the Charlotte Hornets on October 7, 2022 at Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro,  North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice:  Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

    You could argue Williams already had his breakout last season.

    If you did, though, you might be selling his potential short.

    Last season was an eye-opener, for sure. If he wasn't dazzling with his long-distance shooting (106 triples at a 41.1 percent clip), he was holding his own in defensive matchups of all shapes and sizes. Every once in a while, he'd hint at an expanded skill set, too, by punishing smaller players in the post or whipping a clever pass to an open teammate.

    Perhaps that campaign will prove close to his ceiling, but maybe it was just a stepping stone toward something greater. He'll be motivated to improve, not just to help his team but also to either justify a rich contract extension or to drive his own price up in 2023 free agency.

Robert Williams III

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    CANTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Robert Williams #44 of the Boston Celtics poses for a portrait on September 26, 2022 at High Output Studios in Canton, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

    This somehow feels both boring and bold.

    The former stems from the fact that Williams seems, quite clearly, on the way up. Last season was his first as a full-time starter, and it was wildly impressive. He dominated the interior, flew around the floor defensively and made enough smart passes for opponents to have to respect that part of his game. Given his age (24) and exposure (174 career games), another step forward feels sort of inevitable.

    Then again, injuries have always held him back, and he's already battling them. He had knee surgery in September, and it will keep him out for at least the start of the season. So, rather than leaping forward, there's a chance he spends a lot of this season simply getting his rhythm back and re-establishing the foundation he set in 2021-22.

    If he's healthy more often than not, though, he'll have a chance to make a big leap forward. As long as his games don't torpedo his argument, he'll be firmly in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion. His first-ever All-Star invitation could be on the table, too.

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