3 players under the most pressure in 2021-22

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Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors

TAMPA, FLORIDA – APRIL 21: Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors closed the book on the Kyle Lowry era, ushering in a new, exciting age led by Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam. The Raptors are leaning on a new batch of stars that could fit Masai Ujiri’s plan for a team built on defense, versatility, and hustle.

The 2021-22 season, which has already been prefaced by Ujiri as a year that could birth plenty of growing pains, might seem like a very relaxed year for Toronto. If they make the postseason, great! The squad is winning. If they bottom out, not the end of the world. This is a young squad with some new players.

However, that doesn’t mean some of the senior players on this roster will get off without feeling the heat if their performance dips. Some veterans could hit free agency with the intent of earning a big contract, and some pieces that are already locked in for the future need to prove their quality.

These 3 Toronto Raptors will be playing the 2021-22 season under a dense cloud of pressure. Failure to live up to expectations might make it difficult for the squad to pick up several consecutive victories.

3 Toronto Raptors under a ton of pressure in 2021-22

3. PF Chris Boucher

Boucher averaged 13.6 points and 6.7 points per game last season, showing that he has completed his metamorphosis from an intriguing bench player to a legit Sixth Man of the Year Candidate and one of the best two-way power forwards in the East. Unfortunately, this may be the last year for him in Toronto.

Boucher is set to hit the open market as a free agent after this season, and teams all around the league will be lining up to sign a springy power forward with the ability to blocks shots and remain 3-pointers down with ease. Failing to take that next step could impact the value of his next deal.

Chris Boucher needs to perform in his contract season.

Boucher will get a perfect opportunity to prove his value to the Raptors and the rest of the NBA. Siakam is likely going to miss a good chunk of games early in the season due to his injury, and Boucher should slide right in as the starting power forward.

All signs point to him being able to handle this, as it is unlikely he falls off of a cliff following years of consistent improvement. However, teams will be watching how he replaces Siakam with a very watchful eye, as it could help determine if some franchises view him as a high-energy big off of the bench or a potential starter.