With the NBA season being suspended indefinitely, we're taking the next couple of weeks to roll out our Raptors Report Cards on each key member of this season's team. The plan? Take a closer look at how everyone performed, from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to Terence Davis and Matt Thomas.
Next up: Montreal's own Chris Boucher.
Chris Boucher might be the most interesting player on Toronto's roster.
He's full of potential, but how long until we see him reach his potential? And can he do it on this roster with vets like Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol playing in front of him?
One thing that was answered in 2019-20 is that Boucher belongs in the NBA. After dominating the G League, winning both league MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year award, Boucher earned a full NBA deal. After choosing not to play for Team Canada this summer, Boucher was focused on earning a spot in the rotation. Thanks in part to his hard work and injuries to others on the roster, the Montrealer appeared in 55 games this year and for the most part impressed in his time on the floor.
When Boucher gets his number called, he's in the game to rebound and defend. So far he's made an impact in both those areas. With Boucher on the floor, the Raptors boast a defensive rating of 102.9, which improves from 104.7 when he sits, according to NBA Stats. With Boucher on the floor, Toronto has a rebound percentage of 51.7%, compared to 48.7% when he's on the bench.
Energy and effort are what will get Boucher on the floor, but tangible results on the team's overall performance is what will keep him in the rotation.
In the big comeback win against Dallas, Boucher was incredible, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 24 minutes.
Chris Boucher netted a career-high 21 points to go along with the game-winning slam in Toronto's historic 30-point comeback! 😤 #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/maDPAm4gHs- NBA TV (@NBATV) December 23, 2019
His energy was contagious and helped turn what would've been an embarrassing loss into a historic win. But being the "energy guy" means that you have to bring that energy every time your number gets called, and that isn't easy. Nurse had to call out the whole second unit, including Boucher, for a drop in their energy at one point in the season.
Boucher responded with a big game in Phoenix, but consistency is where the mediocre become good and even great.
"(Nurse) just told me, 'Play with more energy.' You know, obviously, I've had a great season, and that's what I've been doing the whole time," Boucher said after a win in Phoenix, where he had 19 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.
"The last few games, I was kind of slow and missing a step. I was feeling it.
"I mean, obviously, sometimes it's hard to just be in that position, but I was able to see it like, you know, getting beat off plays that I never get beat for, just not being at the spot where I'm supposed to be. I think that really showed me, really helped me out with that."
Keeping Up With The Canadians 🇨🇦- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) March 4, 2020
Chris Boucher | vs. @Suns
2 THREE POINTERS
2 STEALS#WeTheNorth | @Raptors
Keeping Up With The Canadians is presented by @McDonaldsCanada. pic.twitter.com/n0nsddjxBL
Now that he's established himself as an NBA player, the bar for Boucher is somewhere between Jonathan Isaac and Brook Lopez skill-wise. Boucher is as athletically gifted as Issac and has a nice stroke from range. He also possesses the ability to protect the rim like Lopez.
If he's able to put it all together, Boucher can be a consistent 3-and-D guy at the power forward and centre position in the years to come. The only question is will he get that opportunity in his home country or does another team make sense for him?
Either way, Boucher has done enough this season to showcase his skills and maybe get a GM or two to offer him the deal and consistent playing time he may be looking for.
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