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Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors: Chris Boucher's scorching start to the 2020-21 NBA season in six stats

How long does someone have to do something before it no longer comes as a surprise?

Asking for Chris Boucher.

Once again, Boucher came up big for the Toronto Raptors, this time by helping them cruise to a victory over the Dallas Mavericks with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks off the bench.

Boucher is now averaging 16.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 23.8 minutes per game this season, all of which are the highest marks of his career. There's still a lot of basketball to be played between now and the end of the season, but with the way he's playing right now, Boucher is building quite the case for both Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player.

To make better sense of Boucher's scorching start to the season, here are six stats to know.

7: How many games Boucher has scored 20 points in

Boucher has scored 20 or more points in seven of Toronto's 13 games this season.

Why is that notable? Boucher had a total of three career 20-point games entering this season.

Granted, Boucher had played less than 100 career games entering 2020-21 - 91, to be exact - but he's still never come close to posting the numbers he has to start this season.

Chris Boucher 20-point games by season
Season Games Played 20-point games
2017-18 1 0
2018-19 28 0
2019-20 62 3
2020-21 13 7

Boucher's highest-scoring game to date came in a win over the Charlotte Hornets, in which he tied his career-high with 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field, 2-for-4 from 3-point range and 7-for-8 from the free-throw line.

To boot, Boucher pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked two shots against the Hornets. It's one of four 20-10 games he has posted this season, which also happens to be the most he's ever recorded in a single season.

6: How many consecutive games Boucher has scored double figures in

Including his performance against the Hornets, here's what Boucher has done in Toronto's last six games:

That marks six straight games in which Boucher has scored double figures. Not only is it the longest streak of his career, but he is also now tied with Lou Williams, Jalen Rose and Norman Powell for the longest streak of 15-point games off the bench in franchise history.

Boucher will have an opportunity to set the franchise record on Wednesday when the Raptors host the Miami Heat.

46.9%: Boucher's shooting percentage from 3

This is a big one.

Boucher has always been a willing 3-point shooter - close to half (41.2 percent) of his shot attempts in his career have come from the perimeter - but he's struggled with consistency. In 2018-19, Boucher made only 32.4 percent of his 3-point attempts. In 2019-20, that number fell slightly to 32.2 percent.

So far this season, Boucher has converted 46.9 percent of his 3-point opportunities.

That isn't a case of Boucher taking fewer 3s either. He's up to 3.8 3-point attempts per game this season, which is exactly twice the amount he was taking last season (1.9).

Boucher almost certainly isn't going to sustain that level of shooting on that volume for the entire season - he'd become only the sixth forward/centre in NBA history to do so if he did - but him proving to be even an above-average 3-point shooter would be huge for both his development and that of the Raptors.

Spacing is the name of the game in today's NBA, so having a centre that teams have to respect from the 3-point line is huge, especially on a team built around as many drivers as the Raptors.

15.9: Boucher's net rating differential

With Boucher on the court this season, the Raptors have posted an offensive rating of 116.8 and a defensive rating of 107.8. With him on the bench, their offensive rating has fallen to 101.9 while their defensive rating has risen to 108.8.

In other words, the Raptors have gone from outscoring their opponent by 9.0 per 100 possessions with Boucher in the lineup to being outscored by 6.9 points per 100 possessions without him.

That differential (15.9) is the largest on the Raptors. Of qualified players, Norman Powell (7.0) ranks behind Boucher, followed by Kyle Lowry (5.8), Terence Davis (4.1) and Yuta Watanabe (2.1).

We're still working with some small sample sizes here, leaving that number subject to change in the coming week(s) or month(s), but it illustrates how valuable Boucher has been to the Raptors in the early going of this season. He's completely outplayed Aron Baynes and Alex Len, and he's given the Raptors a tremendous boost on both ends of the court.

Speaking of both ends of the court...

33: How many shots Boucher has blocked

Through 13 games, Boucher has blocked 33 shots. That's the most on the team by a country mile. OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam are tied for second place on the Raptors with ... eight blocks each.

Even more impressive is that there are only two players in the league who have blocked more shots than Boucher to start the season. You may have heard of them: Myles Turner (50), who led the NBA in blocks in 2018-19, and Rudy Gobert (35), who led the league in blocks in 2016-17.

Like most shot blockers, the bulk of Boucher's blocks have come at the rim this season, but he has swatted a total of eight 3-pointers. According to PBP Stats, that's the most in the league.

The player closest to Boucher in that department is Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant, who has blocked six 3-pointers. There are then five players tied in third, a list headlined by Anthony Davis and Ben Simmons.

It speaks to Boucher's versatility that he has blocked as many 3-pointers as he has. He lacks the size of a traditional centre, which hurts the Raptors on the glass more than anything, but he has the ability to guard the 3-point line and anchor the paint. With how Raptors head coach Nick Nurse likes to pressure teams and fly around the court, it's not a surprise that they've been at their best defensively with Boucher at centre, not Baynes or Len.

29.8: Boucher's Player Efficiency Rating

Put it all together - his 3-pointers, blocks and steals, as well his missed shots, turnovers and fouls - and Boucher currently has a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 29.8.

For context, there's only one player in the entire league who has a higher PER than Boucher. His name? Nikola Jokic (31.5), who we had ranked third in our first MVP ladder.

PER has its limitations, but if Boucher rubbing shoulders with an MVP candidate in one of the most widely-used advanced statistics doesn't paint the picture of how good he's been this season, I don't know what will.

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

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