The Toronto Raptors are making their return to Canada against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight, and with that comes renewed optimism about the success of the team in the 2021-22 season. Power forward Chris Boucher figured to be a big part of the equation when it came to propelling the squad to wins.
While he made his mark as a reserve for most of last season, he was without question one of the few bright spots for the team last year. With Pascal Siakam out for the first few weeks of the season as he works his way back from a shoulder operation, Boucher could use this as his time to shine.
Nick Nurse and the Raptors, who were counting on Boucher’s 3-point shooting and shot-blocking skills to serve as a foundational piece of their new positionless style, were dealt some unfortunate news that will make him inactive for the next few weeks.
Per Josh Lewenberg, Boucher suffered a dislocated middle finger and required surgery on that hand. Per Nurse, Boucher is now expected to be out a minimum of 3-4 weeks, which is an absolutely devastating blow for a Raptors team that constantly struggled to field a team at full strength last season.
Will the Toronto Raptors survive without Chris Boucher?
Boucher averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocked shots per game last season. Too tall for most traditional wings to defend consistently and too athletic for bigger interior defenders to match up with on the perimeter, the improvements he made last season were immediately noticed by even the most casual fans.
Boucher is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of this season, meaning that this year was pivotal for him if he wanted to increase his contract value.
On top of the fact Toronto’s already think frontcourt just lost one of their best players, he might take some time to fully get back in the swing of things next season.
The most likely candidate to replace him in the starting lineup might be the No. 4 overall pick in Scottie Barnes. There is also a scenario in which new acquisition Precious Achiuwa sees an uptick in minutes, as he could play a bit more like a traditional power forward than the unique Barnes at this moment in time.
This injury isn’t necessarily crippling considering that he figured to rejoin the team sometime near the beginning of November, but this is a gut punch for the Raptors ahead of their preseason opener.
Hopefully, Boucher can recover quicker than anticipated and bring his unique brand of basketball back to the Toronto Raptors bench.