Toronto Raptors: Best and Worst case scenarios for the rotation bigs

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors, Chris Boucher
Toronto Raptors – Chris Boucher (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Chris Boucher

Chris Boucher’s 2020-21 season came pretty close to ‘best case scenario’ territory, even as the overall play of the Raptors’ big men certainly didn’t. He averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks, all career-highs by a wide margin, while finishing tied for sixth in Most Improved Player voting with Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

Best Case Scenario

The Raptors are hoping that Boucher’s standout production last season was driven more by the Montreal native’s own development instead of merely filling a ‘putting up stats on a bad team’ void, with Baynes and Len producing little.

Ideally, Boucher will continue to hone in on an effective three-point shot (his 38.3% mark last season was also a considerable career-high) to better compliment Precious Achiuwa and Khem Birch in the frontcourt. If he can serve as a two-headed rim protection threat alongside Achiuwa, then all the better.

During his media availability in announcing the waiving of Ishmail Wainwright, Nurse acknowledged that the 28-year-old was “getting closer” and would likely be back sometime after Wednesday’s home opener.

How will Chris Boucher impact the Toronto Raptors?

Worst Case Scenario

Players typically don’t shoot 20 percentage points over their career average while also earning increased minutes. So it’s fair to wonder if Boucher enjoyed at least somewhat of a flukey uptick one year ago.

With Achiuwa and Birch in the middle and Barnes needing minutes somewhere (to say nothing of Yuta Watanabe, Isaac Bonga, and Sam Dekker), there’s no guarantee he can count on the same 24+ minutes per game he received in 2020-21.

If he doesn’t force his way into a bigger role than some of his competition on this roster, broader questions about his long-term future could fester.

As a great Canadian success story on the lone NBA franchise north of the border, Boucher has made for a pretty cool element of the Raptors’ core. Still, he’s also 28 and approaching free agency, so if he can’t separate himself from the pack, the club could have younger and cheaper replacement options at their disposal.