Chris Boucher's block party

From G-League MVP to NBA Champion.

click to enlarge Chris Boucher's block party
Photo via Chris Boucher/Instagram

Toronto Raptors big man Chris Boucher is up for Most Improved Player of the Year and 6th Man of the Year. He has been that good.

But most hardcore NBA fans only know Boucher as that guy who won an MVP… in the G-League. 

Not exactly what you want people to think of when they hear your name when you’re an NBA player. But, it’s certainly a start, and with Boucher’s play this season, he’s going to start being known as much more than just a guy who had some success in the NBA’s version of the minor leagues. 

But Boucher has had work through the ranks at every level of basketball. Boucher first arrived in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors, playing on their G-League team the Santa Cruz Warriors while playing on a two-way contract following an incredibly successful career at the University of Oregon where he set the school record for blocks in a single season with 110 in 2015. Boucher arrived at Oregon after spending one season at New Mexico Junior College and another at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. 

Not exactly big-name schools. Even after a couple successful seasons at Oregon, Boucher tore his ACL in a PAC-12 tournament game and went undrafted before signing that two-way deal with the Warriors. 

Lucky for the Raptors. Most teams looked at Boucher as an undersized, slender center with an injury history. The Raptors scouting department saw potential. And now it’s being realized. 

Boucher is averaging two blocks per game coming off the bench, good for fourth in the NBA, while shooting 45% from three-point range and averaging on 13 points per game. You want to know how many guys in the league are averaging a block or more per game while shooting 40% from deep on more than two attempts from beyond the arc per game? Three. Joel Embiid, an MVP candidate, Mikal Bridges, another criminally underrated guy playing for the Suns, and Boucher. Boucher is the only one of those three guys averaging two or more blocks per game. 

That may sound super specific and stretching numbers to make Boucher sound good, but the idea of a shot-blocker shooting three-pointers is still very new to the NBA, and incredibly valuable in a league where spacing is king. When thinking of historically great shot-blockers, you typically think of guys like Dikembe Mutumbo, Hakeem Olajuwon and Bill Russell. None of them were particularly adept from the mid-range, much less from deep. 

But it’s a different game. And Boucher is a perfect example of that, in both his game and how he got here. 


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