If you are looking for a bright spot in what has been a tough start to the season for the Toronto Raptors; look no further than Canada’s very own Chris Boucher.
The 28-year-old who grew up in Montreal is turning heads around the league in his fourth season in the NBA.
“He’s playing at a super high level,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse during his post-game press conference after Boucher put up 20 points eight rebounds and three blocks in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers earlier this season. “He’s certainly been a real bright spot. I think again he plays with great tenacity always and always puts you in a good position, he’s fighting on the glass and blocking shots here and there, he’s running the floor and plus the offense has been good.”
As amazing as Boucher’s journey to the NBA is, it’s even more exciting to think about his potential and what’s to come. After going undrafted in 2017, Boucher eventually made his way to Toronto’s G-League affiliate, Raptors 905, where he was named the 2019 G-League Most Valuable Player and the Defensive Player of the Year.
Now in 2021, Boucher is once again making his case for a couple of regular season awards, this time on a bigger stage.
Most Improved Player?
Boucher is without a doubt having a breakout season averaging career-highs across the board including 14.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.
As the defensive anchor for the Raptors, Boucher ranks third in the league in total blocks with 40 on the season trailing only the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz.
The defensive potential has always been there but Boucher has made some major strides offensively this year as well.
This season alone Boucher has scored 20 or more points in seven games and he has also recorded four games with 20+ points and 10+ rebounds. Prior to the 2020-2021 season, Boucher had scored 20 or more in just three games in his career.
His efficiency has also been off the charts through the first 18 games, shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 44.9 percent from three.
If Boucher keeps this up he will definitely be in the running for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award along with Houston’s Christian Wood and Detroit’s Jerami Grant.
The Most Complete Bench Player in the League?
The stats are impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that Boucher posts those numbers while coming off the bench in just 23.2 minutes per game.
As one of the early frontrunners for Sixth Man of the Year, Boucher is leading all bench players in blocks per game by a country mile (New York Knicks centre Nerlens Noel is second at 1.65) and he also ranks in the top ten among bench leaders in scoring.
Outside of Boucher, the Raptors have been searching for more production at the centre position this season. Aron Baynes has struggled to carve out a consistent role in the Raptors rotation, shooting a career-worst 39.1 percent from the field and scoring 5.1 points per game. Earlier this month, the Raptors decided to waive Alex Len and they are likely going to fill that empty roster spot with some much-needed size.
Regardless of what move Raptors President Masai Ujiri makes next, it might be worth inserting Boucher in the starting lineup or at least continuing to increase his minutes to see if he can continue to develop on what’s already been a very encouraging start to the season.