Toronto Raptors

Fred VanVleet praises Chris Boucher's 'fire and heart' following Toronto Raptors victory over Charlotte Hornets

It's been a slow start to the season for the Toronto Raptors, but one of the bright spots has been the play of Chris Boucher.

Now in his fourth season in the NBA, Boucher is averaging career-highs of 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 22.8 minutes off the bench for the Raptors. He already has three double-doubles through 11 games, as well as five 20-point games, the most recent of which came in Toronto's win over the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.

Boucher saved his best for last against the Hornets, scoring seven points and coming up with eight rebounds in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

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Raptors guard Fred VanVleet had plenty to say about Boucher the next day, calling him a "gamer" and praising both the "fire and heart" with which he plays.

"He's just a baller, man. He's just a gamer," VanVleet said of Boucher.

"He's got that thing that you can't see, you don't really know what it is, but he's got a great feel and just a great gamble about him where he makes risky plays, he takes chances, and they work out for him more than they don't.

"He doesn't have a textbook jump shot, he doesn't have the best frame that you'd want on a big guy and he just figures it out. He's just a baller. He plays basketball. He's a great basketball player. If you were creating a player, I don't think it would come out looking like Chris in any shape or form, but I would take him on my team any day if I needed to win a ball game.

"I just love the fire and heart that he plays with. You can't put a price tag on that."

The season is still young but the Raptors have been a completely different team with Boucher on the court. According to NBA.com, they're scoring at a rate of 113.4 points per 100 possessions with him in the lineup compared to 104.6 with him on the bench. (That's the difference between the Raptors having a top 10 offence and a bottom-five offence). They've been better defensively as well, giving up 107.6 points per 100 possessions with him compared to 111.1 without him.

The result? The Raptors are outscoring opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions with Boucher on the court and are being outscored by 6.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the bench.

The Raptors only have three wins to show for it, but it's hard to imagine where they'd be without Boucher right now.

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