If you decided to vote for Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Boucher as the Most Improved Player, no one would’ve batted an eye or looked at you funny. Boucher’s meteoric rise from an NBA afterthought to one of the best bench players in the game reached a new apex during the 2020-21 season.
Boucher went from getting 13.2 minutes of playing time in 2019-20 to 24.2 last year. He made good use of that time, averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. In a year full of so much bad luck and misfortune, Boucher starting to emerge was one of the more encouraging sights from last year.
While he garnered some support for Most Improved last year, voters were seduced by Julius Randle morphing into a star with the New York Knicks. Las Vegas is still high on Boucher’s potential, putting him just outside of the Top 10 in the latest odds.
The folks over at WynnBet have Boucher listed at +2000 (bet $100 to win $2,000) to win MIP, which puts him just outside the top 10 and tied with players like John Collins, Darius Garland, and Jerami Grant. Considering that the odds haven’t been very kind to OG Anunoby’s Defensive Player of the Year odds, it’s refreshing to see Boucher get some love.
Will Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Boucher win MIP?
Boucher will get a golden opportunity to beef up his stat line early in the season, as Pascal Siakam will be sidelined for a few weeks in the beginning due to his shoulder injury. Boucher is not an identical player, but Toronto won’t have to overhaul the offense to accommodate him.
Boucher is improving as a scorer, as he was one of Toronto’s best shooters from beyond the arc last season. When paired with the fact that he is both a solid rebounder for someone as skinny as he is, Boucher’s offense could easily help him get the scoring totals voters need to see.
On defense, Boucher is not only a great shot-blocker, but he might be the best player in the league at blocking 3-pointers.
Boucher has two obstacles in his way. First, Toronto likely won’t be contending for a championship, and a season outside of the playoffs could make him less attractive than some candidates with similar numbers.
Second, Boucher will likely return to a reduced role off of the bench when Siakam comes back.
Even with those concerns, Boucher has made such magnificent leaps during the last two seasons that him suddenly scoring close to 20 points per game should surprise no one. He looks like an ideal MIP bet right now.