In a move that has been widely expected, but is still fun and fantastic, the Raptors have converted Chris Boucher’s two-way deal to a full NBA contract.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 10, 2019
The Montreal-born Boucher has been frankly killing it in the G-League. He can put the ball on the floor and take practically any G-League center off the dribble. He’s a shooter averaging 31.2 percent from deep, but many of his attempts are end-of-clock hand grenades that blow up in his face; he’d be about a league average shooter if the offence didn’t rely on his skills to such a large extent. He has been putting up potentially one of the greatest G-League seasons of all time. He has averaged 27.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 4.0 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game. Those even belie how ridiculous his advanced stats have been; the dude contributes to winning, at the G-League level, in an almost unprecedented way.
In the NBA, Boucher’s weaknesses are slightly more pronounced. He is incredibly slim, and bigger forwards can back him underneath the rim and score fairly easily. Boucher’s incredible length can be countered by bigger centers like Jusuf Nukic, as players that size don’t exist in the G-League. Furthermore, Boucher doesn’t have the most awareness on the court, and the intricacies of NBA offences and defences can sometimes go over his head. He hasn’t been playing the game for as long as other NBA players.
That isn’t to say that any of this will be a long-term issue. Boucher has such incredible skills that his weaknesses shouldn’t hinder him for long. Boucher has dominated matchups against NBA-level bigs like Terrence Jones. He can play center or power forward, and his floor-stretching and defence will translate to the NBA even if he isn’t given the ball nearly as much. (As a point of comparison, Lorenzo Brown found that his G-League MVP skills didn’t translate as easily to the NBA.)
Boucher likely won’t contribute to a great extent this season. He can slot in at the big position for a few minutes a game, but if all goes to plan, the Raptors won’t use him in the playoffs. Boucher is a signing for the future, which is why his contract being for multiple years is such great news. He has legitimate star potential in the NBA; he has averaged 1.0 blocks per game this season in only 5.6 minutes per game for Toronto. Boucher just does things when he’s on the floor, some good, some bad, but he always seems to be at the center of the action. Props to Boucher for earning a full NBA contract.
Toronto now has 11 men on the roster, and when Malcolm Miller and Ben McLemore’s 10-day contracts become official, they will be up to 13. There will be more signings in the future.