Chris Boucher's in-season turnaround made him irreplaceable to Raptors

At one point this past season, Chris Boucher was barely playing and was struggling mightily on both ends of the court. By season's end, he was a consistent source of production off the bench and is on the verge of earning his first long-term deal in the NBA. Listen to the full 'Raptors Awards' episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our Yahoo Sports Canada YouTube.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: Off to Sixth Man of the Year-- we both have the same person here.

AARON ROSE: Are you letting me go for it?

AMIT MANN: Oh, you go for it-- hell yeah.

AARON ROSE: All right. To me, it's Chris Boucher. And we talked about him earlier as a player who found his role and, I think, actually accepted that sixth man role. He mentioned, as I've talked about a couple of times now, that Cavs game, where he thought he was going to come out and be the star of the team. And he mentioned later in that season how that game was the turning point for him because he realized how hard it is to be the go-to guy. And this is a guy in the contract year who probably wanted to go out there and was putting up big numbers down in Tampa. He had that three-point shot falling, and he sort of felt like he could take the next step and be sort of a Pascal Siakam-type player. And I think what he realized is how hard it is to be that guy.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

AARON ROSE: And from that point on, he said, you know what? I'm not going to be taking the three-point shots. When I am going to do is grab offensive rebounds. I'm going to grab defensive rebounds. I'm going to take charges. I'm not going to be selling out for blocking three-pointers the way we have in years past where he makes silly mistakes. He was a composed, complete player and accepted his role. And again, he didn't do it every night. He's not a five-out-of-five player. But in terms of accepting his role and being that Sixth Man of the Year, that high energy guy off the bench, he did it more often than not-- four out of five nights, three out of five nights. And that was something we hadn't seen from him in the past. And I think it's a reason. If you listened to Masai Ujiri speak the other day, he talked about Chris Boucher as somebody who is on the team. We need to take a step forward for Chris Boucher, moving forward. He's a guy who's going to develop for next season. Well, if you listen to the way he speaks, I think he'll be back next season.

AMIT MANN: Can they afford him, though? I mean, Chris Boucher-- I feel like because he's embraced his role-- and in some ways, him not really being able to show his offensive game has actually helped them because people look at him now as a complete product in a way, where he's a player who knows exactly what his role is. And he's going to go out there and do it. So I don't know. I see him being a bit of a commodity this offseason. I think it's going to come down to whether Chris Boucher really wants to be a Toronto Raptor because money-wise, it's just luxury tax and stuff like that. Does it matter? Do we need to care about that? It's more about the Raptors. But I could see a team really shelling out a lot of money for Chris Boucher.

AARON ROSE: It'll be interesting to see if they give out those long-term deals with some of the other contracts coming up-- Gary, Fred, Pascal, and OG. How does the long-term financial situation work? But that's not my problem. That's for Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri to figure out. But from the way it sounded, he's a guy they want to have back. And I think it's because he accepted and learned how to be that Sixth Man of the Year-type player.

AMIT MANN: Alex Caruso, after he won his NBA championship-- the bubble title-- he had said that one thing that sticks out to him-- a reason why he's able to last in the NBA-- is that he accepts his role. And that's always stuck out to me because you think about all the players who just got phased out of the NBA. Do you want to be a person who averages 20 in the G League or seven points in the NBA? And you've got to make that transition-- that acceptance-- that this is what you're going to be in the NBA because not everyone can be the number one player. That's why you have roles in the NBA. You have guys who are going to be your scorers. You have guys are going to be your passers. And you can't have too much of one thing because that's how-- well, that's how you lose games.

Everyone's got to be comfortable in their own space on the NBA court. And Chris Boucher finding that and realizing that and accepting it-- it's going to be a game changer for him. He's 29 now, I believe. But he's still, obviously, very useful. He's got probably four or five years in the NBA where he can still be very valuable, and it's a great position for him to be in. Later than never is never a bad thing because as long as you get there-- that's the most important part. So, a salute to him-- I hope things really go well for him this offseason, financially. I think they will. And I hope he's back in the Raptors rotation for next season because that would be a huge hole to fill but not something you're going to really see immediately. It's going to take time for us to really see how they're missing Chris Boucher if they do indeed stick with this like [? 6' 8" ?] vision-- not [? 6' 9". ?]

AARON ROSE: That's fair, and that's a good point. He could be priced out of their range for whatever reason, but what he did in accepting that role was crucial for the Raptors.

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