Raptors: Chris Boucher needs to start over Aron Baynes at center

Toronto Raptors (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Raptors’ Chris Boucher should be getting more minutes than Aron Baynes.

The Toronto Raptors have built the back end of their roster with a motley crew of outcasts and G League darlings that Nick Nurse and company have molded into quality NBA players. Chris Boucher, a former G League MVP, could be the next to fully ascend to stardom and follow in Fred VanVleet’s footsteps, but Nurse seems hesitant to put him in the rotation.

With the combination of Aron Baynes and, on occasion, Alex Len at center doing little to help one of the worst offenses in the league, the time has come for Nurse to finally put Boucher next to Pascal Siakam in the starting lineup. Doing so might finally snap Toronto out of their early-season funk and get them back on the road to contention.


Chris Boucher could give the Raptors a spark on both ends of the floor.

Boucher, a former undrafted free agent from Oregon, is averaging 13.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game this season. Those numbers actually belie his true effectiveness, as he played just four anonymous minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers. With explosiveness in his game, solid post moves, and an improving jumper, Boucher and Siakam would be a much better tandem in the front court than Siakam and a career backup and defensive specialist in Baynes.

“Wait a minute!”, I hear you reply, “Isn’t Baynes a much better defensive player than Boucher?” Well, Baynes’ 105 defensive rating is solid, but Boucher’s 99 shows that Toronto gives up fewer points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor. Pair that with the fact that Boucher, who won G League Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging a shade under four blocks per 36 minutes, and it becomes clear that Baynes’ physicality on the defensive end shouldn’t be enough to keep Boucher off of the floor.

The Raptors have a history of developing players in the G League and gradually assimilating them into the starting lineup. Heck, it worked so well for VanVleet that he parlayed his success into an $85 million contract. While Baynes is a rock-solid interior defender, Boucher gives Toronto a much higher ceiling on the offensive end, and his drop in form gives Nurse a perfect reason to make the switch.