Raptors: Chris Boucher must emerge as a star after Pascal Siakam surgery

TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 21: Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 21: Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors might’ve taken it on the chin in 2020 due to some historic bad luck, but they were banking on the likes of Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and Chris Boucher turning things around in 2021 as they return to their Canadian digs in the hope of competing in what is a very competitive Atlantic division.

Unfortunately, before the Raptors genuinely kick-started their offseason plans in earnest, they were dealt some terrible injury news, as it is all but confirmed that they will start the season without the services of the supremely talented Siakam on the floor.

The Raptors confirmed that thanks to an injury sustained in May, Siakam underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. With the recovery period lasting five months, and the season starting in October, there is a good chance that Siakam missed the first big chunk of the season.

With the heartbreaking Siakam surgery potentially destabilizing the rotation, Boucher will likely be the player who moves into the rotation if Nick Nurse wants to keep OG Anunoby at small forward.

Chris Boucher will be given a HUGE chunk of responsibility, and he must continue his upward ascension if the Raptors want to avoid being pinned to the proverbial mat early in the season.

Toronto Raptors stud Chris Boucher must pick up the slack for Pascal Siakam.

Boucher more than doubled his scoring average last year, improving from 6.6 points per game in 2019-20 to 13.6 per game in Tampa. He did so while making 38% of his 3-pointers, blowing his old rebounding totals out of the water, and blocking almost two shots per game. That improvement garnered him some Sixth Man of the Year hype, even if he didn’t end up winning.

Boucher’s breakout season shows that the Raptors can, and should, lean on him on both ends of the floor. However, due to his wiry frame, he struggled when asked to play center and guard some of the more physical bigs in the game. If he is the primary Siakam replacement, he’s going to get a ton of those studs thrown his way.

Boucher has a $7 million base salary that becomes fully guaranteed in August, but his second contract’s value will be inexorably tied to how he plays this season. If he proves that he can be a viable starter for however many games that Siakam is knocked out, not only will he make some money for himself, but he can save the Raptors’ season.

Even when Siakam comes back, he might take some time to get going. No. 25 will be looked at early and often on offense, and a sluggish start on his behalf could be brutal.

Either the Nets or 76ers will win the division next year, the Knicks are way ahead of schedule, and the Celtics have enough star power to do damage. Any slip-up on Toronto’s part could be lethal.

Luckily, if Boucher is able to play up to his potential for a few weeks without Siakam, Toronto might be able to claw their way into the postseason by avoiding an early-season slump.

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