Toronto Raptors

One Play: The shot blocking versatility of Toronto Raptors centre Chris Boucher

Welcome to "One Play!" Throughout the 2020-21 NBA season, our NBA.com Staff will break down certain possessions from certain games and peel back the curtains to reveal its bigger meaning.

Today, Toronto Raptors centre Chris Boucher takes the spotlight.

Context: Chris Boucher blocked two shots in Toronto's loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday. He's now up to 38 blocks on the season, putting him behind only Pacers centre Myles Turner (62) and Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert (43) for most in the league.

Like Turner and Boucher, the bulk of Boucher's blocks have come at the rim, but he's become particularly adept at blocking 3-pointers.

We'll get into why it matters in a bit. First, Boucher's most recent blocked 3.

The play:

Breakdown: The Raptors fall back into a zone following a made basket from Kyle Lowry.

Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and OG Anunoby are at the top of the zone, leaving Boucher and Lowry to man the bottom.

There appears to be some confusion right off the bat. Anunoby picks up Malcolm Brogdon at the top of the perimeter and VanVleet is glued to Turner, likely so that he can switch onto Brogdon if he uses Turner's screen.

Powell and Boucher, meanwhile, are in the same vicinity as Justin Holiday in the right corner, leaving Lowry to cover Jeremy Lamb on the left wing and Doug McDermott in the left corner.

Brogdon passes the ball to Lamb. With VanVleet lunging for the steal and coming up empty, Lowry has to slide off of McDermott in the corner to pick up Lamb, who was on fire at this point of the game.

That's when Boucher starts to make his move.

Boucher is still in the paint when Lamb receives the ball from Brogdon, but he knows what's coming next.

Thinking he has enough time to get his shot off, McDermott rises up ... only for Boucher to send his 3-point attempt into Toronto's bench.

McDermott has been lights out from the corners this season. According to NBA.com, he's 7-for-15 from the left corner and 2-for-4 from the right corner. Small sample size, sure, but he's long been one of the NBA's most accurate 3-point shooters. Boucher coming up with the block prevented an easy basket for the Pacers.

Why it matters: First of all, it's remarkable how much ground Boucher covers. He's incredibly nimble for a centre and looks much bigger than he actually is because of his massive 7-foot-4 wingspan.

You see how Boucher has his foot just outside of the paint when McDermott receives the ball from Lamb?

All it takes for him to close the gap between him and McDermott is one (large) step.

(Bonus points for jumping off of his right left and blocking the shot with his right arm. That's not normal).

Secondly, that block marks Boucher's ninth blocked 3-pointer this season. Why is that notable? It's the most in the league.

According to PBP Stats, Jerami Grant of the Detroit Pistons has blocked six 3-pointers, ranking him second behind Boucher for most in the league. Kevin Durant and Matisse Thybulle are tied in third place with four blocked 3-pointers each.

The season is still young, but Boucher ranked highly in the same category last season. Despite playing less than 1,000 minutes on the season, Boucher blocked 12 3-pointers, tying him with Anthony Davis for fourth-most in the league. The only players ahead of them were Pascal Siakam, Andrew Wiggins and Pat Connaughton with 14 each, Mitchell Robinson with 16 and Thybulle with 21.

If you combine both seasons, Thybulle (25) is the only player in the league who has blocked more 3-pointers than Boucher (21).

Most blocked 3-pointers since 2019-20
Player Minutes Played Total Blocks 2PT Blocks 3PT Blocks
Matisse Thybulle 1,515 58 33 25
Chris Boucher 1,222 99 78 21
Mitchell Robinson 1,945 149 131 18
Pat Connaughton 1,470 36 19 17
Anthony Davis 2,653 174 159 15

It's impressive that Thybulle, who is only in his sophomore season, has blocked as many 3-pointers as he has, but Boucher has blocked far more 2-pointers than Thybulle during that span.

Put it all together, and Boucher is proving himself to be one of the NBA's most versatile shot blockers.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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