Chris Boucher: Grinding to Shine

Two games into pre-season, it’s already apparent the Raptor’s next-man up mojo has not faded over the off-season. Ibaka was certainly a devastating loss, but the departure of Marc has opened up valuable minutes to more capable contributors.

Of those deserving the opportunity, Chris Boucher stands atop the list. These vacancies have set the stage for his break-out season, as fans have been patiently anticipating. The first pre-season game saw the Canadian big-man collect 9 points, 4 rebounds, and an impressive 4 blocks in only 14 minutes. His second appearance wasn’t quite up-to-par; recording a single point and block, while adding a pair of turnovers.

To be clear; I’m not worried about Boucher, and I think he’s on-track to fulfill the role he is currently poised for. However, after watching the past two games, I do feel the young centre must establish a basic post-up repertoire to effectively lug secondary minutes. Although he is capable of scoring through transition, free-throws, and on various broken-plays, he has no jump-shot to speak of and often struggles to score 1-on-1 in the paint. Nick Nurse has schemes to disguise this weakness, but diverisfying his game would benefit overall team success.

After watching Alex Len suit-up, I am additionally confident that Boucher remains our second-string for the season. Boucher has proven his worth in energetic defensive assignments on star players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis. Becoming a comfortable interior finisher is the missing piece to an otherwise elite skill-set, and polishing this aspect will enhance Toronto’s ability to play inside-out offensively.

At times in Charlotte, it seemed like Boucher got quickly overwhelmed in the low-post, picking up multiple turnovers due to errant passes or coughing-up the ball. Some may argue this is merely a matter of offensive reps, which is true to a certain extent. However, I think it will require a concerted effort from Boucher to develop a set of go-to interior moves; potentially even a floater. Too often it seems that Boucher is uncomfortable with the ball in the paint, and that will need to change as a reliable second big-man.

In spite of my constructive criticism, I am still really excited and pleased by what I see thus far from Boucher. I am certain he averages close to 2.0 blocks this year while locking dudes up, but double-digit scoring will largely depend on the aforementioned developments. With the Raptors’ staff carefully grooming him, I am certain they will expand the current shortcomings in his game. Boucher is a proven workhorse, and if he can find a way to efficiently score without decisive paint-usage, then I will happily eat my words as well.

In the meantime, I hope he keeps grinding so he can shine brighter.

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Noah Allen December 16, 2020 8:17 p.m.

I really hope Chris gets lots of playing time. I’m definitely expecting big things from him this year.

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