Toronto Raptors big-man Chris Boucher is playing his way into Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved conversations, yet the team hasn’t been able to take advantage of it.
When the season started, many thought that Aaron Baynes would be a solid replacement for Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. We all knew that he would be a lesser player than both of them, but it felt like he could step in and be a reliable defender and provide quality minutes. However, it became apparent that wasn’t the case after a few games for the Toronto Raptors.
As Baynes’ minutes decreased, Boucher’s increased. Currently, in his fourth NBA season, Boucher had yet to average more than 13 minutes per night, so this heightened responsibility was rare for the 28-year-old. However, in 12 games this year, he’s proving to be worth every penny of his recently signed two-year $13.5M contract.
You’d think that Boucher performing at such a high level would be great news for the Toronto Raptors, right? As an organization, it’s a great feeling to see a player who makes one-fifth of the team’s highest player contributing at an equal level. However, that’s where the problem exists.
Boucher is currently averaging 15.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. Comparatively, the team’s highest scorer (Fred VanVleet) is only averaging 20.1 points per game. That’s not a big enough difference.
You’re probably already maxing out the potential of Lowry, who’s averaging 18.7 points per game, but Siakam and VanVleet can do better. Siakam’s production has dropped from 22.9 points to 18.9 points per game this season. I know it’s only four points, but three of the team’s eight losses have been decided by four or fewer points.
VanVleet and Siakam have another level to their game. VanVleet should be matching his jersey number (23 points per game) every night and Siakam should get back to what he was doing last year. If both of them are able to play up to their monster contracts, then Boucher’s production gets heightened even more.
If Boucher is scoring 15 or more points every night, the Raptors should have a high winning percentage. Instead, they currently have a .500 winning percentage, going 4-4 in those games. That record needs to drastically improve as the season progresses, or they’ll be wasting his production.
I know it’s early, but Boucher currently has the most 20-plus point nights off the bench in the NBA right now. In order to win a big award like the Sixth Man of the Year Award, you typically have to be on a playoff team, so the Toronto Raptors need to use this as a rally-cry to get back into the playoff picture.
Making the playoffs should always be a priority, but it needs to be an expectation with Boucher’s play. If the big-man continues to perform at this level and the team fails to make the post-season, it’ll be one of the most disappointing seasons in Raptors’ history.