In the grand scheme, wins and losses are inconsequential in the summer.
Sure, the competitive fire to fuel a team to win is important but above all, Summer League is about increased repetitions and development of young talent. Such is the case for the Toronto Raptors, who went 2-3 over five games in Las Vegas but enjoyed the standout play of third-year Canadian forward Chris Boucher.
Not only was the Montreal native the Raptors best performer, but he was also one of the top performances in Vegas with averages of 23.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks over four games.
|Game 1||Warriors||21 PTS, 13 REB, 1 BLK|
|Game 2||Spurs||24 PTS, 12 REB, 1 BLK|
|Game 3||Knicks||23 PTS, 7 REB, 2 BLK, 1 STL|
|Game 4||76ers||24 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 1 BLK|
After undergoing a roster shakeup after the Free Agency decisions of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, Toronto was forced to pick up the pieces to begin building for the future; this summer served as a reminder that sometimes, the answer is already on the roster.
So what does this mean for Boucher?
As the team's biggest losses came on the perimeter, the frontcourt rotation of Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka remains completely intact. With OG Anunoby and newly-signed forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson likely to spend time at the power forward position as well, it becomes difficult to see the type of role that could be carved for Boucher.
MORE: Raptors have no plans to trade Lowry, Gasol or Ibaka
Boucher's talent is undeniable - prior to standing out in Las Vegas this summer, he was named the 2019 G League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year after posting averages of 27.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game in 28 games with the Raptors 905. While the aforementioned set of bigs made it tougher for him to crack Toronto's rotation, he did appear in 28 games, posting averages of 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds while playing in under six minutes per game.
His biggest opportunity came in the regular-season finale, where he played nearly 25 minutes and posted a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double in the Raptors 20-point victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Keeping Up With The Canadians 🇨🇦- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) April 10, 2019
Chris Boucher | vs. @Timberwolves
7 - 10 (70%) SHOOTING
2 BLOCKS#WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/r8YMlp2Ezl
Boucher brings shooting, energy and rim protection thanks to his length but his 6-foot-11, 200-pound frame make for concerns surrounding his ability to be physical on the interior.
He's young in a sense of experience, but his unique path to the NBA means that he will be turning 27-years-old midway through his third season out of college. At this point, it's unclear just how much he would be able to bulk up in order to take more contact.
Working in his favour is that he is younger than both Ibaka and Gasol, who are players that he could spare in the rotation by spending time at the centre position. Reports have indicated that the two are in the team's plans for the upcoming season, but with the team's sights set on the postseason, Boucher could be looked upon to lighten the workload of each player.
With a year of development under the Raptors staff under his belt, Boucher has made great strides in his game and has an evolving understanding of the team's system, as evidenced by his performance in the Summer League. After winning G League MVP, he said that this past season he 'did things he did not know he could.' Boucher's ability to space the floor as a stretch big could prove to be useful for the Raptors this upcoming season as the offence will heavily rely on spacing for Siakam's drives and Lowry's playmaking.
There are a number of variables in play, but Chris Boucher has done all that he is supposed to do in order to improve and stay ready for an increased role in the upcoming NBA season. As more changes are sure to come with time, the Canadian's role could grow bigger sooner rather than later.
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