Raptors coach Nick Nurse explains benching Chris Boucher

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 29: Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 29: Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors leaned on Chris Boucher regularly last season. Not only did he take incredibly impressive strides on the offensive end, but he did so while becoming an elite shot-blocker. Fans and coaches expecting a repeat performance this season have been left extremely disappointed.

Boucher went from averaging 13.6 points per contest on 51% shooting to just 5.9 points per game on 38% shooting. His rebounds and blocks per game averages have slipped from 6.7 and 1.9 per game, respectively, to 4.1 and 0.7 per game. A free agent at the end of this season, Boucher has seen his value crater.

This team gave Boucher plenty of chances to turn things around, but Nurse has finally pulled the plug amid some tough losses. In Sunday’s difficult defeat against the Boston Celtics, Boucher didn’t play a single minute. Even two-way rookie Justin Champagnie came off the bench before the skinny Canadian.

Nurse claimed that Boucher needs to “be a little more consistent” whenever he gets his chance to return. After playing as many minutes as you and I did Sunday night, Nurse said that Boucher has to “handle [his benching] like a pro.” Nurse tried to send Boucher a message with this benching.

Are Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors done with Chris Boucher?

Even though the Raptors were shorthanded due to Goran Dragic leaving the team for personal reasons and injuries to stars like OG Anunoby, Boucher was rooted to the bench. Raptors fans have bemoaned the lack of players on the interior all season long, and the disappointing play of Boucher contributed to this crisis.

Cleaning the Glass (subscription required) shows that Boucher’s limited minutes as a center have been putrid on both sides of the ball. Boucher has proven to be not skilled enough offensively to serve as an oversized perimeter player while also being too skinny for full-time interior work.

His unusual style of play has resulted in some disappointing showings.

As terrible as Boucher has been this year, games like his 17-point effort against the 76ers or double-double against the Kings show that he’s still capable of producing solid offensive efforts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Toronto won both of those contests.

Boucher’s substandard play lately made it hard to question the benching. However, assuming last year was not a mirage, that game-changer we saw in Tampa may still be buried inside of Boucher. A system shock like this could be what wakes him up and gets his season turned around.

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