The Toronto Raptors are in the process of trying out a bunch of different lineups as they try to figure out what works and what doesn’t near the tail end of this cursed season. While power forward Chris Boucher has been one of the pleasant surprises this year, he has come with some flaws that have hurt his value.
Boucher is averaging 13.5 points per game while showing off an improved post game and 3-point shot. While his performance might be enough to get him some Sixth Man consideration, it hasn’t been enough to move the needle for the Raptors in terms of wins.
The Raptors are on the outside looking in with regards to the playoff picture, and the fact that Boucher and Pascal Siakam’s gangly frames have been matching up with some of the best defensive centers in the league is a huge reason why Toronto has had difficulty sustaining success.
Nick Nurse was quoted saying that Boucher has essentially been pigeon-holed into the power forward role. Playing him at center, despite the fact that his unique skillset could help Toronto offensively, simply wasn’t working, especially with the addition of two centers that are incapable of expanding their game past the 3-point line.
Toronto Raptors: Chris Boucher is a confirmed power forward
Per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required), Boucher is playing 89 percent of his minutes at center this year. However, when compared to his time at the 4 spot, Boucher is compiling a better efficient field goal percentage, turning the ball over less, and allowing offensive rebounds at a much lower clip.
Boucher is a fantastic player, but his size and skillset make him too skinny to serve as a small-ball center, yet too lumbering to hang out on the perimeter often. With Siakam taking up a starting spot at power forward because of his own struggles as a true center, Nurse’s ability to mix and match lineups has been severely undercut.
Once everyone is healthy this season, the best frontcourt rotation might involve Siakam and Khem Birch sharing the floor for heavy minutes, with Boucher and Freddie Gillespie grouped together. Things will change next year when Toronto inevitably makes an addition at center.
Boucher might not be the most versatile player in the world, but Nurse should see this as an asset rather than a flaw. Don’t try to put a square peg in a round hole. Put the 6-10 forward with impossibly long arms at power forward, and watch his shot-blocking skills coupled with his shooting help him flourish on both ends of the floor.