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Chris Boucher named G-League’s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year

Chris Boucher is officially the G-League’s Hakeem Olajuwon after winning the G-League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year for the 2018-19 season.

There has never been a season in the G-League like the one that Chris Boucher just accomplished. Boucher ranked on multiple G-League historical per-game leaderboards, finishing 11th-highest in points (27.2), third-highest in blocks (4.1), and top-50 in rebounds (11.4). Furthermore, Boucher shot far better from the field (51.0 percent), and committed fewer turnovers (2.0), than almost any who recorded better scoring seasons. (Among players who scored more per game, only Christian Wood this season and Alando Tucker in 2007-08 shot better from the field. Only Malik Hairston in 2009-10 and Tucker in 2007-08 committed fewer turnovers.)

The Montreal native’s advanced stats are even better. His massive 29.73 Player Efficiency Rating is second all-time. He has the fourth-highest win-shares per-48-minutes of all time (0.26). His traditional numbers are far from empty; Boucher’s net rating was the highest on the 905, at 11.7.

It is not ridiculous to say that Boucher finished the best combined offensive and defensive season in the history of the G-League, in terms of averages. The only mark against him was that he only played in 28 of 50 games due to NBA commitments. Boucher did it all while leading the Raptors 905 to a 29-21 record, before being bounced in the second round of the playoffs by the Long Island Nets.

Boucher is a unique player type; there’s not really an NBA equivalent that makes sense. He’s 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, but he weighs barely 200 pounds.

On offence, he is Darryl Morey’s wet dream come to life. 83.4 percent of his shots came either at the rim or from behind the arc, where he shot quite well: 70.8 percent at the rim and 31.6 percent from deep. (His long range shooting was solid early in the season before it tailed off towards the end as he took an increasing number of pull-ups instead of catch-and-shoots.) He has such elevation and quick-jumping ability that he averaged 2.8 dunks a game. That’s almost equivalent to Anthony Davis’ 2.9 dunks per game in the NBA.

Boucher has great handles, and he’s at his best grabbing the defensive rebound and running the fast break himself. He has the skills of a traditional big as well, either rolling or popping after a screen, and inhaling offensive rebounds. In a 47-point effort, which is a franchise record, against the Oklahoma City Blue on December 12, Boucher showed off the whole shebang, dunking passes thrown out of the pick-and-roll, stroking pull-up triples, and feasting on the offensive glass.

On defence, Boucher is a shot-blocking fiend. He can get off the ground twice or even three times in an instant, and he has great defensive timing. His 7-foot-4 wingspan and huge hands give him the extra closing ability to block shots mere mortals wouldn’t dream of challenging. His record-setting, 47-point game against Oklahoma City? He also recorded nine blocks. He equalled that in the first round of the playoffs, when he recorded nine blocks against the Grand Rapids Drive.

With Boucher’s award, 905 players have won the G-League MVP award two years running, as Lorenzo Brown won it last year. They’re the only G-League franchise to have produced back-to-back MVP winners in history. Boucher is the first G-Leaguer in history to have won the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same year. Boucher is clearly already too good for the G-League, and he was rewarded with a full NBA contract on February 10. His contract is partially guaranteed for the 2019-20 season, so Toronto retains control over his playing future next year. Congratulations to Boucher for the well-earned award, and expect to see more Boucher NBA minutes over the final five days of the Toronto Raptors’ regular season.

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