Chris Boucher had to hit rock bottom to bounce back better. In search of a big contract and substantial playing time, the interior struggled at the start of the year and took time to find its place in Nick Nurse’s squad.
However, he was able to raise the bar in the second half of the season, and his Game 6 against the Sixers, his first half in particular (19 of his 25 points scored, and 10 rebounds) allowed him to recall how much he could be valuable for its aggressiveness and commitment.
An impact player
The interior is the first to admit that he did not have the right approach at the start of the season, but also recalls that he suffered a dislocated finger in preseason.
“I clearly started the season with a different mindset”did he declare. “But I didn’t expect my finger injury to affect me so much. I came back thinking that I was going to bring on offense, like I had done in Tampa (the previous season). But I would have gone into the wall if I had kept this state of mind. It really helped me to realize that.”
While Chris Boucher will now approach the offseason as an unprotected free agent, and therefore the possibility of signing wherever he sees fit, Nick Nurse and several teammates wanted to highlight his contribution.
The coach first listed his areas for improvement, such as consistency, but also mentioned his commitment and his ability to have an impact on matches.
“He did have some ups and downs, and you have to remember that the start of the season was very tough for him. It took him a long time to find himself, and find his place in the team. He started making an impact in games during the month of December. But for a coach, it’s always good, when a match is undecided, and I tell myself that I can’t wait to bring in Chris and Precious (Achiuwa) “he confided. “As a coach, we know that these players really have an impact. No matter when, when he was supposed to come in, he would sprint from the bench tearing off his tracksuit and you could feel him: ‘Here I am, I’m coming. And the adversaries felt it. He made a very good contribution to the second half of the season”.
A contract at 10 million per year in the viewfinder?
Chris Boucher was also congratulated by two team executives, Pascal Siakam, who said his ” pride “ to have seen him manage this complicated season and play this Game 6 “thoroughly” against the Sixers, and Thaddeus Young.
“Chris is a very good player, he knows and knows how to play his role. Sometimes he can step out of his comfort zone a bit, but that’s the case for all players. The good thing about him is that it’s easy to get him back on track. You talk to him, you say, ‘I need you to do this or that’, and he’s going to do it.”
It remains to be seen whether these praises will encourage him to stay in Toronto or not. At 29, he would hope to land a contract of around ten million dollars a season.
“I wanted to get to this position one day and be able to say that I had a good season, that I have options, and that I’m happy with my game. Of course, I didn’t like doing the dirty work until I realized what it could bring me. It’s something that allowed me to grow.”concluded Chris Boucher.