Darko Rajakovic praises 2 key Raptors bench players, hints at big roles

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 05: Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 05: Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors are still in the process of trying to iron out the team’s rotation, as the bench is still a miasma of veterans trying to assert themselves and young players finding their way. How Darko Rajakovic chooses to decide this roster will have some major implications. Chris Boucher and Jalen McDaniels will both be in the final product.

While Boucher is one of the few remaining holdovers from the title-winning days, and McDaniels is a fresh face that was plucked from the rival 76ers, both of them are lengthy forwards who could thrive in a new-look offense that will lean into their shooting and athletic ability.

With a few more preseason games on the docket, names like McDaniels and Boucher will have perfect chances to assert themselves in Rajakovic’s mind as elite role players. Based on some of his early quotes, the former Grizzlies assistant is falling in love with these two.

I really like [McDaniels’] defense, his ability to get deflections, ability to get over the screens, to change shots,” Rajakovic said of the former Hornets and 76ers wind. “Offensively, I think there is another layer to his game. I think that he can be a very good cutter, especially inside of our system.”

Rajakovic had plenty to say about Boucher and how he will fit in with the new “0.5 offense.” “[Boucher] is really good with roaming on defense,” Rajakovic said.” He can protect the rim. He runs [on] offense, transition, really well…I want him to be even more aggressive on the offensive end in the sense that he makes good decisions.”

Toronto Raptors’ Darko Rajakovic praises Chris Boucher, Jalen McDaniels

Both Boucher and McDaniels feel like echoes of a bygone age to a degree due to their switchability, making them prime Nick Nurse forwards. However, given the success wings like Dillon Brooks and forwards like Brandon Clarke had with Rajakovic in Memphis, the system he brought to Toronto could get the most out of them.

If the preseason is anything to go off, Boucher will be back in a familiar role as a high-energy bench big who can shoot his trebuchet-like 3-pointers and block shots on the perimeter. He even saw time as a small-ball center that performed well against the Cairns Taipans.

The Raptors need everyone to play a part in getting roster back to the postseason, with Boucher’s stringy frame and the promise that McDaniels brings standing out as two ways the Raptors can get second-unit production.