Title: Raptors 905’s latest success story, Chris Boucher’s blistering but abbreviated G League season ends with awards
Date: April 2, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Chris Boucher’s MVPDPOY season in the G League and what comes next as he tries to make the leap to NBA viability.
It fits the season well that Chris Boucher didn’t check in Monday until there were four minutes left to play in the Raptors’ casual handling of the Orlando Magic. Up 19, Nick Nurse finally turned to his end-of-bench contingent, Boucher’s first playing time of the night but his second appearance. Before tip-off, he was presented with both the G League Most Valuable Player and G League Defensive Player of the Year awards.
There is an inherent irony in being crowned the best player who was still a G League regular, and the NBA half of Boucher’s season – 27 games, 138 total minutes, almost exclusively spot-duty or would-be garbage time – has offered only a limited window into how much a tremendous season with Raptors 905 will translate to the next level.
There is no arguing with the statistics, as Boucher was so impressive he won the awards despite appearing in only 28 of 50 games. (The honour surprised some even in the organization, who thought Jordan Loyd’s equally impressive performance over 41 games may give him an edge if the award went to a 905 player; Loyd had the strongest advanced-stats case, as well.) Boucher averaged video-game numbers – 27.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 4.1 blocks – and did so efficiently – 61.1-percent true-shooting on a difficult 29.5-percent usage rate – improving the 905’s play by 16 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor.
There’s also not a ton of surprise that Boucher was very good given what he showed late last year, even if only he expected quite this level of production in his first full season as a pro. Back in October, Boucher told The Athletic he was aiming to capture both awards, and it was only when he was called up from a two-way contract to a standard NBA contract and began spending more time in the NBA that doubt crept in.