ll things considered, the Toronto Raptors have had a bumpy start to their season. Frustrations were mounting, tensions were up in the locker room, and head coach Nick Nurse was getting virtually no production from their front court that they acquired in the offseason; Aron Baynes and Alex Len.
Fans that have gotten used to the winning of the last several years were disappointed, and after a horrible 2-8 start, trade rumors were beginning to surface for Raptors legend Kyle Lowry to ship him to a contender.
Nurse had to change the rotation, and weigh his options. After another abysmal outing from Baynes on virtually every statistical category, Nurse decided to nearly cut him off the rotation of players that earned playing time.
This meant giving more time to other players, and as Nurse evaluated his options carefully, the opportunity for a particular player came and he capitalized without question.
The Undrafted Canadian From Quebec
Enter Chris Boucher, aka Slim Duck, aka Bloc Quebecois, the undrafted Canadian from Montreal, who was just waiting for a real opportunity. He withstood adversity virtually his whole life, growing up in the difficult Saint Michel neighborhood, and was a late bloomer to the game of basketball. At age 19, Boucher worked at the St Hubert restaurant as a cook and a dishwasher for minimum wage. Never playing on an organized team before, and only playing pickup basketball at nearly 20 years of age up until that point, a quick email to a sports club changed his life forever.
After a torn ACL injury in college with the Oregon Ducks, Boucher went undrafted primarily because of his injury, but didn't give up on his dream to play in the NBA. In the summer of 2017, the Golden State Warriors signed Boucher on a two way contract. In July 2018, the Raptors signed him, and they were probably not fully aware of what player he had the potential of becoming.
His thin frame often held him back, but what held him back primarily, was the fear of being sent to the bench after a mistake or two during the rare times that he did play early on in his tenure with the Raptors. Now that he's been given a real opportunity, that fear of being on a short leash has evaporated, and the 28 year old is now currently playing the best basketball of his life.
The Production of Boucher in the first 13 games
Boucher's production has been nothing short of stellar in this young NBA season. He has been remarkably consistent, scoring 20 points in 7 of Toronto's 13 games thus far. His efficiency of 75% or higher in the last four games is something no one has surpassed in league history since the late Wilt Chamberlain.
Through the first 11 games of the season, Boucher's PER (Player's Efficiency Rating) is second in the entire NBA, only behind Nikola Jokic. To supplement this impressive feat with more statistics, Boucher's true shooting percentage is 4th in the NBA, and his win shares per 48, is 2nd in the entire league. His defense has been nothing short of impressive, and his positioning to go along with his length more than makes up for any concerns surrounding his thin frame.
Boucher blows the performance of the other Raptors bigs out of the water, as they are not even on the same cosmos. Whether Nurse makes changes to the starting lineup to feature Boucher depends on his eligibility to win the 6th man of the year award, but at the end of the day, it doesn't truly matter who starts the game, it matters on who finishes the game.
Former Raptor Terrence Ross, to go along with Goran Dragic, and Jordan Clarkson, also have cases to win the 6th man of the year award. However, the Raptors just waived big man Alex Len, giving more time to other players, most notably Chris Boucher. Everything indicates that Boucher is being given the full green light, and while his absolutely superb numbers won't last the entire season, plus given the fact that teams have not fully game planned for him yet, Boucher has a legit chance to win either award.
Only time will tell if that is the case.