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2019-20 Player Review: Chris Boucher

An agent of chaos on the court, Chris Boucher has proved he belongs in the NBA. For Chris Boucher, this season was nothing short of a success.  This season he appeared in 62 games (which accounts for 2/3 of his total career appearances) and carved out a role in the backend of the Raptors regular ... Read more

An agent of chaos on the court, Chris Boucher has proved he belongs in the NBA.

For Chris Boucher, this season was nothing short of a success.  This season he appeared in 62 games (which accounts for 2/3 of his total career appearances) and carved out a role in the backend of the Raptors regular season rotation. It was Boucher’s first year as a full-time NBA player and he definitely showed that he is a capable NBA role player.

With injuries to Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol throughout the regular season, Boucher was regularly the first big of the bench for Nick Nurse. On most nights, the combination of Hollis-Jefferson and Boucher coming off the bench provided a huge spark. Unfortunately for Boucher, with the logjam in the front court, he never was apart of the rotation of a fully healthy Raptors team. For what it’s worth, NBA Math graded Chris Boucher as the 9th best player on the Raptors and labelled him as a “depth piece”. At this point in his career, I would say it’s a fair assessment of his role on playoff contending teams.

Highlight Machine

Chris Boucher’s 2019-2020 highlight reel is one of the more impressive role player mixtapes in the NBA. His length, athleticism and run-through-a-wall mentality lead to some incredible plays.

Boucher had a coming out party early on in the season on the Raptors west coast road trip. Boucher’s defensive energy and hustle flustered the Lakers and provided Raptors fans with some jaw-dropping defensive plays. This sequence encapsulates everything Boucher does well. Protects the rim, runs the floor incredibly well and has the length to finish off the lob

And if his defensive performance against the Lakers wasn’t enough, Boucher followed that up with one of the meanest blocks of the season on Montrezl Harrell the next night.  Rocking the Jungle Hunter (from Predator) hairstyle, Boucher was terrorizing opponents in the paint with his length.

And who could forget Boucher flying around the court playing a key role in the Raptors mounting a 30 point comeback against the Dallas Mavericks in late December. It’s always talked about how the NBA floor shrinks due to the world-class athleticism on display. Never before has this statement been more true than with this Boucher defensive sequence.

In that Dallas game, Boucher proved to be the perfect pick and roll complement for Kyle Lowry. As long as Boucher rolled hard to the rim, Lowry would put him in a position to succeed. And it was Boucher’s emphatic dunk that gave the Raptors a lead in the dying seconds of the 4th quarter.

Throughout the season, Boucher developed into a decent roll man. When Boucher got downhill and the Raptors guards hit him in stride, it usually resulted in a highlight dunk. He just covers so much ground so quickly and doesn’t allow defenses to recover in time .

In the 61.8th percentile among all qualifying pick and roll screeners, his length and athleticism made Boucher the Raptors only real lob threat out of pick and rolls. And in typical Boucher fashion, he added some more highlight alley-oops to his name.

He also added a litter of loud putback dunks where he seemed to have come out of nowhere. Credit to Boucher, though he is thin, he is not afraid to throw his body around. Per 36, Boucher averaged 4.7 offensive rebounds per game, putting him at 5th in the league (tied with rebounding machines like Tristan Thompson and Dwight Howard). Aside from his length, Boucher’s activity and hustle make him a serviceable NBA player.

The Not So Good

The idea of Chris Boucher is salivating for front offices in the modern NBA. On paper, Boucher checks almost every single box of a high impact role player. He’s tall and long enough to protect the rim but also agile enough to close out to 3pt shooters on the perimeter (Per 36, among players who logged at least 300 minutes in the NBA, Chris Boucher ranked 3rd in contested 3pt shots a game). On offense he rolls hard to the rim, hustles to generate extra possessions and can hit triples.

Unfortunately, for Boucher, he isn’t able to put all the pieces together on a consistent basis. He’s just not a refined or polished player at the moment. In 2019-2020, he shot 32.2% from three on just 2 attempts per game. While he’s never been a knockdown shooter, he needs to be able to hit his wide open threes. In the G-league last season, Boucher shot 32.0% from three on 6.9(!) attempts per game. If anything it seems his shooting touch regressed last season.

Another worry with Boucher is his frame. Though Boucher gained 15 pounds over the NBA hiatus, he still gets pushed around too easily, especially in the post. Here Felicio moves Boucher completely out the way with a strong sweep move. And these type of sequences were not few and far in between. Rather they occurred pretty often when Boucher was in the post or boxing out opposing centers.

His thin frame also worries me with how much time Boucher spends in the air. Boucher has a violent and aggressive playstyle that has him off of his feet on both ends of the floor. He’s had some hard falls after going up for blocks or getting fouled in the air. Collisions and landings like these always have me concerned for his long-term health.

Chris Boucher is a solid NBA contributor who, at this point in his career, relies heavily on his physical tools to make up for his lack of basketball skill and feel. He had a good season as a rotation player for the Raptors in 2019-2020 and filled in admirably when Ibaka or Gasol were injured. He’s a restricted free agent this year and I would not find it surprising if Boucher isn’t on the Raptors roster come December 22nd.

 

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