Why Celtics drafted Creighton's Baylor Scheierman and what this means for Sam Hauser's future (2024)

When Baylor Scheierman was at Aurora High School, he was more than just a basketball player. He loved golf and baseball. The quarterback threw a Nebraska state-record 59 touchdowns his senior year to win a state title.

But he wanted to hoop. That brought him to South Dakota State and then Creighton, where he led the Blue Jays to the Sweet 16 a few months ago. Now he’s the latest member of the Boston Celtics.

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Brad Stevens could have traded out of the first round. It made financial sense to do it. Most teams don’t want the 30th pick when they can get someone roughly as good on a more favorable contract a few picks later, especially with Boston’s looming luxury tax dilemma.

Yet, the Celtics sat at 30 and made their pick, bringing in a knockdown shooter who was ranked 22nd on Sam Vecenie’s The Athletic Big Board. The 6-foot-6, 202-pound Scheierman is a good fit for their system, but not just because the lefty can shoot. Boston goes after players with a distinct complementary skill that makes them more than a limited specialist.

With Scheierman, it’s his rebounding and playmaking. He averaged 9.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game at Creighton last year, while shooting 38.1 percent from deep. He not only can crash the defensive glass, but he can take the ball and run. That’s an important tenet of Boston’s scheme, that anyone can start a transition without wasting time looking for an outlet.

While he doesn’t have a lot of agility or aerial ability, he is good at picking up speed once he starts going coast to coast, with enough size to muscle up a defender who tries to pick him up at half court.

“You just got to impact the game in other ways,” he said back in December. “I feel like that’s what makes me a little different, is I can do a little bit of everything.”

He ranked 99th percentile in points per possession scoring out of the pick-and-roll, per Synergy. Scheierman still ranked 98th percentile even when adding in his passes, which is a strong indicator he can fit in this offense. He’s got a good feel for the playbook, knowing how to get to his spots and anticipate when the passing window is coming.

Maybe his greatest stat of the season was that he played all 55 minutes of a triple-overtime win at Seton Hall in January. He had a triple-double against Georgetown last season, showcasing his versatility. If he wasn’t already on Brad Stevens’ radar, he certainly was when he had 27 points and 10 rebounds at Butler in the next game. It would’ve been clear after watching a few minutes of his tape that he could jump right into a role already established on this Celtics team.

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Here is Scheierman running an action Boston often uses for Sam Hauser, called Spain pick-and-roll, where he screens for the screener and pops out to the top of the arc. This play shows a lot of his strengths and weaknesses. He can be used as a screener and then run pick-and-roll. He doesn’t turn the corner going to his right against switches or have a tight enough dribble to split the gap when he attacks in space. But he can step back into a 3 and bury it if he is stuck, so he’s at least not at a dead end.

When he is attacking drop coverage, he knows how to get a defender in jail behind his back and work his way down to post without turning away from the defense. That allows him to survey the floor while still getting to a fadeaway floater.

That move was the reason Creighton was able to force overtime and advance to the Sweet 16.

“He has really good vision and a feel for where everybody’s at,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott told The Athletic’s CJ Moore. “He approaches passing the basketball like a quarterback, like he really does a great job of reading the defense. And then he not only puts the pass on time, but in the right place.”

The lefty wing even showed at times that he can fake going left over a screen, hit a hard cross back to his right, then work his way through the midrange to get to an open jumper. When he does go to his left hand over a screen, he can dribble through the legs to flip his hips and go into a stepback 3. While he doesn’t have the speed at this point to beat switches, he can be effective against drop coverages. It’s rare that he ever fully attacks the rim.

He’s got layers to his game that a lot of floor spacers don’t. Of course, it’s all a question of whether he can do it against NBA defenders. He’s just big enough that he should be able to.

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A lot of teams passed on Scheierman because of his limitations as a creator at the NBA level, but the Celtics don’t need that. They need versatile floor spacers who can function in any role on the court. He can be in the corners and then come up into an action and make a read. He can attack closeouts and decide on the move whether to take a floater or pass it to a shooter at the weak elbow. It’s all similar to Hauser, though he is more of a creator while not being quite the elite shooter Hauser is.

So what does this mean for Hauser? He’s entering the final season of his minimum salary contract and has played well enough to merit a market if he hits free agency. He finally became an elite shooter this season and made some improvements as a decision-maker and defender. He’s the ideal guy to have at the end of your rotation.

Boston can renegotiate a new deal with him, then decline his team option for this upcoming season so he can sign a long-term deal now. But they’re about to commit somewhere around $450 million to Jayson Tatum and likely Derrick White. They’ll be so deep into the repeater tax that paying Hauser to even a team-friendly deal will cost a fortune.

Scheierman gives them a backup plan. But it should be clear that while Scheierman enters the league with a more diverse skill set, Hauser has a better touch, is taller, and has demonstrated he’s a sufficient defender to play in the NBA Finals.

Boston’s new rookie is a question mark on defense and coach Joe Mazzulla doesn’t play guys who are bad on defense. But Boston doesn’t draft players who don’t play defense and has a good track record of developing players into defenders who can handle the complicated switching scheme.

The Celtics need a young center. Someone who has enough development runway to plausibly start in a future where Kristaps Porziņģis continues to deal with injuries, Al Horford is retired, and Xavier Tillman is still 6-foot-8.

That problem has to be solved eventually, but they took care of a small but still important issue now by drafting Scheierman.

(Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Why Celtics drafted Creighton's Baylor Scheierman and what this means for Sam Hauser's future (1)Why Celtics drafted Creighton's Baylor Scheierman and what this means for Sam Hauser's future (2)

Jared Weiss is a staff writer covering the Boston Celtics and NBA for The Athletic. He has covered the Celtics since 2011, co-founding CLNS Media Network while in college before covering the team for SB Nation's CelticsBlog and USA Today. Before coming to The Athletic, Weiss spent a decade working for the government, primarily as a compliance bank regulator. Follow Jared on Twitter @JaredWeissNBA

Why Celtics drafted Creighton's Baylor Scheierman and what this means for Sam Hauser's future (2024)
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