The Toronto Raptors had the opportunity to cleanly break with Chris Boucher after he hit unrestricted free agency. With Thad Young having been interested in returning, the swap seemed like it was inevitable. Boucher managed to surprise Raptors fans when he decided to return to Toronto along with Young.
Boucher signed a three-year, $35 million contract with the Raptors that pays him more money up front this year than in the final two years of the deal. It’s nice to see the undrafted longshot get rewarded for such a prosperous career in the NBA up until this point.
The Raptors are going to go into the season with Boucher as one of the first players off the bench. Considering that last year was a bit uneven compared to his breakout season in Tampa, there are some questions about his ability to keep his high level of performance up now that he’s entering his age-30 season.
The Raptors invested in Boucher believing that the same unusual blend of athleticism, post skill, and hustle that made him an undrafted free agent darling is going to turn him into a standout backup for the next three years. Is he going to achieve that goal?
Toronto Raptors season preview: Will Chris Boucher stay hot?
Stats: 9.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 46% FG, 30% 3PT
Boucher was so poor early in the season that he was benched briefly. He was thrown into the trade machine with such frequency that it was genuinely surprising he lasted until the postseason. Against the 76ers in the playoffs, Boucher managed to kick things up a notch.
Boucher averaged 11.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game on 62/40/90 shooting splits. He was one of the team’s most reliable players after names like Gary Trent Jr. and Scottie Barnes were impacted by injuries and illness. Boucher is starting the 2022-23 season with tons of positive momentum.
In the right system, Boucher’s ability to fly to the rim and defend just about everyone at a passable level make him an ideal bench switchblade. Boucher was arguably Toronto’s most consistent bench player at the end of the regular season and beginning of the postseason, as he looked as refined on the offensive end as he ever has.
Boucher not only started the season off in a very inefficient fashion, but he saw his 3-point percentage dip below 30% despite a late surge. His shot-blocking, once a unique trait that helped set him apart, also started to disappear.
With his minutes likely to be more limited due to the addition of Otto Porter Jr, will Boucher be able to make an impact without falling into the traps we saw last year?
Boucher should end up with per game averages relatively close to what he showed last season, though Toronto should expect a sharp rise in 3-point efficiency. The Raptors are going to turn to Boucher as both an oversized wing and small ball rim-runner, giving him tons of responsibility.
A three-year deal implies implicit trust that he will sustain his standout level of production in the immediate future, and it’s on Boucher to make sure their faith is rewarded.