The Toronto Raptors were handed quite a brutal schedule to start the season, as Nick Nurse’s team was pitted against three squads that are widely expected to be playoff contenders. Considering how the early returns have looked so far, the Raptors have to feel good about their performances against elite teams.
The Raptors are 3-2, beating the Cavaliers, Heat, and 76ers while losing to the Heat and Nets. Pascal Siakam has been the main reason for this success, though the rest of the starting lineup has been hitting double figures alongside him on quite a regular basis.
The Raptors’ schedule doesn’t exactly get more manageable. After taking on the Philadelphia 76ers again, the Raptors must face off against the Hawks, a Spurs team that is upsetting many deeper squads, Luka Doncic’s Mavericks, and a feisty Bulls squad. Toronto can’t afford to take its foot off the gas.
The Raptors need these three players to step up and sustain a high level of play during these challenging times. With many of the Raptors’ big names performing at a level commiserate to their pay grade, it’s incumbent on this trio to give them the support they need.
3 Toronto Raptors who must step up early in 2022-23 season.
3. Chris Boucher
While Boucher was very effective in the Miami win, scoring 10 points in 12 minutes while hitting a couple of 3-pointers. With 13 points in 17 minutes in a win against the Sixers, Boucher has returned to the lineup ready to prove that he is a top Sixth Man in the league.
The one issue that Boucher needs to work on to start the season is avoiding foul trouble, as that kept him out of large chunks of the Miami game. Considering the state of the Raptors’ bench, losing Boucher for an extended period would be a perilous exercise against teams like Atlanta and Dallas.
Chris Boucher must stay on the floor for the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors have been surprisingly effective from 3-point range to start the season, and Boucher may play a massive part in making sure that this run is sustained. After struggling to start last year, Boucher soon evolved into arguably their most consistent bench player in the playoffs.
It’s clear that Boucher is one of two players, Precious Achiuwa being the other, that Nurse is willing to bring off the bench and leave in the game for extended minutes. He’s had some very nice moments in the first season of his three-year deal, but he needs to avoid foul trouble to flex his muscles more regularly.