The Toronto Raptors were able to deploy one of the best power forward combinations in the NBA frequently last season, as the scoring skill of Pascal Siakam and the two-way excellence of Chris Boucher off of the bench made for a hellacious tandem that guided the Raptors to a large chunk of their victories.
Boucher averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game, and he likely would’ve been higher than sixth place in Most Improved Player voting if Toronto finished the season with a better record. An unrestricted free agent at the end of this year, Boucher could be in for a major payday if he produces this season.
He’ll get a golden opportunity early in the season. Siakam may miss the first handful of games as he recovers from a torn labrum in his shoulder that is expected to sideline him until November. Boucher would likely be the most natural choice to slide in alongside him in the starting lineup.
How will Boucher perform in Siakam’s role this season? Based on what he did in the starting lineup last year, and assuming he takes a small step forward from a refinement perspective, Toronto shouldn’t have to worry too much about a drop in production at that spot.
The Toronto Raptors should expect big things from Chris Boucher.
Boucher started 14 games last year, and he averaged a solid 15.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game in 29.3 minutes. While his shooting averages (47% from the field, 30% from 3-point range) were slightly down from his overall rates (51% from the field, 38% from 3-point range), that’s not a big enough drop to warrant concern.
Boucher might need to pump those numbers up to 18 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks per game in his short stint as a starter.
With Khem Birch standing out as the worst offensive player in the starting lineup, and the combination of Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. all serving as above-average shooters, Boucher won’t be mobbed by the opposing team’s best defensive player like Siakam often is.
Stylistically, the Raptors won’t have to change much from a stylistic point of view on offense, as Boucher can handle the ball, block shots, and shoot just like Siakam can, albeit with less shot-creation for himself.
While Siakam won’t be mistaken for Shaquille O’Neal in the post, the wiry Boucher might have a tougher time down in the paint than his Cameroonian teammate.
Boucher has already proven that he can be a quality reserve in this league, so much so that he was at least considered for some hardware. Boucher can help the Raptors win games and increase his market value with some solid play in October and November.