Toronto Raptors: Three unexpected surprises through 13 games

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Chris Boucher (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Chris Boucher has a chance at both Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the year

If Toronto Raptors fans had a chance to guess who would win the Most Improved Player candidate on the team, the majority of people would’ve uttered OG Anunoby’s name. And if they were ever going to have a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, our first guess would’ve been Norman Powell who was in that conversation last season. Fast forward 13 games, the player in contention for both of those awards is Montreal-native, Chris Boucher.

Boucher signed himself a big contract in the offseason ($13.5 million/2 years) and he has proven that he is worth every penny. He has improved in every statistical category this season. He also has the second-highest PER (29.07) in the league, only behind Nikola Jokic (a stat that values per-minutes productivity).

Boucher’s scoring numbers will ultimately regress throughout the season as he’s been scoring at an extremely efficient rate; he has an effective field goal rate of 69.5, which is not a sustainable number, but impressive nonetheless through 13 games.

Boucher has made a very impressive jump from being the team’s “energy guy” to being a crucial piece to what the Raptors do right. And that reflects clearly in his per-game stats.

  • Boucher 2019-2020: 13.2 minutes/6.6 PTS/3.5 REB/1.0 BLK/47.2 FG%/32.2 3P%
  • Boucher 2019-2020:  23.8 minutes/16.1 PTS/7 REB/2.5 BLK/60.3 FG%/46.9 3P%

The counting stats alone solidify his case as a MIP candidate but his impact on the team is what’s most impressive. The following are his on/off stats from last season compared to this season.

When on the court, per 100 possessions played:

  • Boucher 2019-2020:
    • -0.6 points on offense
    • +1.4 points allowed on defense
    • Difference of -2.1 (ranking him at the 38th percentile among all players)
  • Boucher 2020-2021:
    • +13.4 points on offense
    • +0.3 points allowed on defense
    • Difference of +8.7 (ranking him at the 82nd percentile among all players)

The most fascinating number has to be the +13.4 points he brings on offense when on the court. The team becomes a top 3 offensive team in the league when he is on the court, scoring 119.3 points per 100 possessions. However, when he is off the court, that number plummets to 106.6, on par with the Detroit Pistons as the 6th worst.

If he continues to play at this level and coach Nurse keeps him as a bench player through the whole season, there is no doubt that he’ll be a prime candidate for Sixth Man of Year.

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The Raptors season has been relatively desolate so far (although it is slowly getting better). So being in a world where Chris Boucher has a chance to be the first player to win Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player awards in the same season is one bright spot to think about.