For better or for worse, Chris Boucher defines the Raptors

Chris Boucher defines this Raptors team, and he changes his game to fit exactly what the Raptors need.

As a basketball player, Chris Boucher has not always been what he is now. Once upon a time, he struggled against Jonah Bolden in the NBA G League. Though he was a great shot blocker and rebounder, he was not a terrific positional defender. He was raw and didn't read plays well. His effort varied from extraordinary to, at times, average, particularly when plays weren't run for him by the Raptors 905.

Those former holes in his game have become his greatest strengths. Boucher is now as dependable as a bench player can be in the NBA. He is among Toronto's handful of best rebounders -- dealer's choice for anywhere between second best to perhaps third or fourth if you're being critical -- against whom size is no solution. He is first in offensive rebounding per game for Toronto and second in per-36-minutes total rebounding. He is always in great position, and he doesn't chase blocks and hurt the defense as a result. He virtually never has plays run for him yet contributes by crashing the glass with vengeful abandon, creating his touches out of thin air. He splashes jumpers, even from the midrange this season.

"The older I get, it’s good to see I’m getting better," said Boucher after Toronto's win over the Los Angeles Lakers. "It’d be bad to get older and just make the same mistakes so that’s something that just makes the game more fun. There’s a lot of stuff I didn’t know about the game, there’s a lot of rotations – I’ve seen [media write that] I could’ve gotten better at a lot of things, and I never understood why but when you start doing it a little bit better you’re like, ‘Oh, those are the things I could’ve gotten better at the past year or even before.’"

It's difficult for NBA players to change their games. It's very difficult for NBA players to change their games when they're signed to low-money contracts. And it's exceptionally difficult for NBA players to change their games without changing employers in the process. In his five years with the Raptors franchise, Boucher has accomplished the exceptionally difficult.

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