One thing from every Raptors game last week, including Chris Boucher’s not ready yet

Toronto Raptors - OG Anunoby (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - OG Anunoby (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

Each week, we bring you the most important play, stat, or moment from every Toronto Raptors game. This week’s highlights include OG Anunoby’s next step defensively, Chris Boucher’s hesitancy, and the return of the 3-2 zone.

It’s hard to be anything but happy with the Toronto Raptors performance six games into the season. They’re 4-2, tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and so far, have won every game that they were “supposed” to win.

The Raptors’ two losses have come on the road to the Boston Celtics (one of their main competitors for the three seed) and the Milwaukee Bucks (the presumed favorite to win the East). Meanwhile, all of their wins have been against teams with a losing record.

But while it might be tempting to think this team is destined to beat up on the bums and fall short against the best in the league, it’s probably too early to claim anything definitive yet. Six games in, you want to avoid making sweeping statements about an entire team.

But we have learned a few things from each game the Raptors have played so far. Here’s one big thing from every game last week:

Chris Boucher’s not ready for big-time minutes

Toronto Raptors fans really want Chris Boucher to happen. Stop trying to make Boucher happen. From what we’ve seen so far this season, he doesn’t appear ready for real NBA minutes. In 17 minutes, he’s 0-3 from the field, has five rebounds, and has a Netrtg of -22.6.

Of course, you can’t draw anything definitive from stats on 17 minutes of action. However, one play against the Orlando Magic exemplified why Boucher isn’t ready for NBA minutes.

That has to be a defensive rebound. It just has to be. Either Boucher doesn’t have the physicality or the awareness to go after that ball on that play. An absence of either characteristic is damning for an NBA player.

It’s possible he just needs more time against real NBA competition. But at nearly 27-years-old, Boucher is no spring chicken. The Raptors desperately need someone who can play minutes at backup power forward. It would be nice if Boucher could grab that spot. I wouldn’t count on it.

OG Anunoby has reached another level defensively

Through six games, OG Anunoby has a steal percentage of 2.1-percent and a block percentage of 2.2-percent. According to, those figures rank in the 96th and 100th among all forwards. Last season, OG finished around average in both categories.

But it’s a play against Tony Snell where he doesn’t get a steal that shows just how impactful Anunoby can be on defense.

Every second Snell spends dribbling is an absolute chore. He’s pressured and harassed to the point where he throws up the white flag before ever trying to make a move. He looks like a JV player who’s getting to play varsity for the first time.

Snell isn’t a great ballhandler, but no one in the NBA should look like that. OG is an absolute menace right now, and it’s evident both in the film and the numbers.

Zone defense is back!

Obviously, the Milwaukee Bucks game didn’t go according to plan. The Toronto Raptors got out to a horrendous start, falling behind by 26 points midway through the second quarter. The Bucks came out ready, prepared, and like they lost four consecutive games to the Raptors to end their season last year.

The silver lining of that loss? No, not that future Raptor Giannis Antetokounmpo looked solid. The silver lining was we got to see the Raptors breakout the zone once again. — they broke it out against the Magic as well, but they stuck with it for long stretches in this game — The zone jumbled the Bucks offense, ignited the Raptors transition game, and in general, caused chaos. Toronto looks more comfortable rotating and swapping roles than they did last season.

Fred VanVleet fails to get over the final screen here, and the Raptors give up points. But on this play, the defense does everything right for most of the possession, and even when they “mess up,” it’s a Bledsoe midrange jumper, not exactly deadly.

One thing we learned from every Raptors game last week. dark. Next

With another offseason under Nick Nurse, expect the Raptors to look more comfortable in their secondary looks. Last year was about installing the base. This season, they are perfecting it. The zone is one example of that.