Toronto Raptors

Canadian Chris Boucher on a mission to prove he belongs with the Toronto Raptors

#Chris Boucher
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The goal for Chris Boucher is simple: play at the highest level.

After spending the Summer League with the Toronto Raptors, Boucher impressed enough to earn himself a training camp deal. He then came into preseason looking to prove that he belongs in the NBA, something that Boucher already believes he has the ability to do.

"I been thinking (I could play in this league) for a long time," Boucher told NBA Canada. "When I got hurt it actually slowed me down but I've always felt like I had a place in the NBA.

"I just needed the opportunity and just put the hard work with it ... I feel like if I keep doing those two things together my chances to make it and to stay in the league for a while are pretty huge for me."

Making the Raptors roster was always going to be a daunting task. The team is expected to have one of the most talented rosters in the league, leaving little room for guys like Boucher to crack the roster, let alone the rotation.

The big man has, however, been rewarded with a two-way contract for the 2018-19 season, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows how resilient Boucher has been to this point in his career.

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Sure Not Now

Boucher went undrafted after a torn ACL late in his senior season at Oregon, keeping him off of every team's draft boards. He eventually signed a two-way contract with the Golden State Warriors but was waived by the team just days after they swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in this past June's NBA Finals.

He talks about his time with the Warriors with a sense of pride in being able to be apart of a championship winning franchise. Taking lessons away from his experiences on the practice court with some of the game's best players.

"Guys like KD, who's a two-time (Finals) MVP and guys like Steph, who's a two-time MVP those guys are always working hard and they're always at the gym trying to get better at their craft.

"Just seeing that with my own eyes made me want to be like that. A guy like Draymond, defensively there's a lot of stuff that I felt like I could learn from them and put it into my game.

"Bering around guys that were successful in the league, or who've been around the league for a very long time like David West or Zaza (Pachulia) ... these guys are just giving me tricks that you might not see when you first (enter the league) but in the long term you actually see what it could do for your career."

Now in Toronto, he turns to other Raptors who have travelled a similar path to his for motivation. Guys like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Norm Powell, all of whom have spent time learning and developing with the Raptors 905 - which is Boucher's likely destination to start the season.

He's also found a mentor in one of the newest Raptors Kawhi Leonard, who Boucher says helped him early on in training camp. The arrival of Leonard has put Toronto in the championship contender discussion, which is great for the city and team, but guys like the 25-year-old Boucher are hoping to soak up all the knowledge he can get from the Finals MVP.

"I'm a defensive player first over offence so learning from a guy like Kawhi, who's been Defensive Player of the Year, it can't get better.

"You know I went from Draymond to Kawhi so it's a good thing."

All Boucher needed was an opportunity to showcase that versatility, and he's now got it with the Raptors. On Friday, the Raptors announced that they've converted Boucher's deal into a two-way contract.

It's the opportunity he wanted and now it's on him to make a difference.

"When you come to training camp you feel like you have an opportunity to make the team or make a difference.

"I came here trying to get better, try to get to know the guys and just see what I could do to help the team win. Training camp is the opportunity for you to make a name for yourself and show what you're capable of doing.

"I came here with an open mind and just try to show what I can do."

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