Chris Boucher could win Most Improved Player in 2020-21

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Chris Boucher is quietly putting his name in the Most Improved Player debate.

While a Toronto Raptors team that was expected to make it to the postseason has spent most of the 2020-21 season mired in the bottom of the standings, and subsequently fallen out of the spotlight, that shouldn’t erase the fact that Chris Boucher, a former G League Player of the Year and crown jewel of the Raptors’ player development culture, is having one of the most impressive seasons of any big man in the league.

Boucher’s numbers of 15.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks, which rank third in the league, in just 23 minutes per game have helped the Raptors somewhat solve their issues on the interior, and they could lead to him ending the season with some hardware if he takes home the Most Improved Player award.

Chris Boucher will likely compete with Jerami Grant and Christian Wood for MIP honors

While Grant is averaging just under 25 points a game — nearly double what he averaged in Denver last year — on a bad Detroit Pistons team, Wood has become a double-double machine for the Houston Rockets.

However, where Boucher has them both beat is efficiency. The Raptors are averaging 143 points per 100 possessions when Boucher is on the court, a mark that is the best of any player in the league, per Basketball-Reference. Boucher almost never turns the ball over, per Cleaning the Glass.

Advanced metrics love what Boucher has been doing over the last few weeks. His PER is second in the entire NBA, with Nuggets superstar and MVP Nikola Jokic the only one ahead of him. According to ESPN’s Value Added stat, which compares a player’s performance against that of a “replacement level” talent, Boucher’s 73.9 mark ranks 18th in the league, ahead of both Wood and Grant. That’s just below superstars Steph Curry and Luka Doncic.

Boucher’s minute limits have put a cap on his gaudy statistics, but his production in his limited playing time puts him in a truly unique class of his own among those players taking a huge step forward in 2020-21.