Raptors Stock Report: Boucher making the case for more minutes

Alex Wong
·5 min read

The Raptors will wrap up their seeding game portion of the restart on Friday against the Denver Nuggets. The game won’t matter for either team in terms of playoff seeding, but after watching Toronto’s third-stringers pull off one of the most memorable wins of the 2019-20 season against the Philadelphia 76ers, we’re not ruling out another all-time classic.

After that, the defending champs will open their first round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets next week. Ahead of what the team hopes to be another deep playoff run, here’s the first edition of the 2019-20 Raptors Stock Report:

Up

Chris Boucher has been piling up IG-worthy highlights inside the bubble. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Boucher has been piling up IG-worthy highlights inside the bubble. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The “never underestimate the championship” energy. From the minute the Raptors rolled into Disney World in two Black Lives Matter buses, they have carried themselves as defending champions. They opened the seeding games with a convincing win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite one of the toughest schedules in the bubble, the Raptors have gone 6-1. They’ve done nothing in the past two weeks to dispel what everyone in Toronto already knew: this team has a legitimate shot to repeat as NBA champions.

OG Anunoby. If the NBA named a Most Improved Team for the seeding games, OG Anunoby would be on the top of the list. The defence has picked up where it left off, but it is on the other end of the floor where Anunoby has opened some eyes. His handle is much improved, and there’s more decisiveness to his offensive game. This bodes well for not only this postseason, but for the foreseeable future of this team. Suddenly, imagining defensive player of the year and all-star consideration for Anunoby in the next few years doesn’t feel so far-fetched.

Chris Boucher and Matt Thomas’s playoff minutes. After the top seven guys on the team, the rest of the rotation is in flux heading into the playoffs. Terence Davis’s struggles, Pat McCaw’s absence, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s limited ceiling on offence has opened the opportunity for Chris Boucher and Matt Thomas to insert themselves in the conversation. Boucher has been a truly influential player on the defensive end, and can help space the floor on offence. Thomas’s long-range shooting capabilities are well advertised (disclosure: mostly by me), and he’s been playing with much more confidence. They’ve both made the case to be part of the playoff rotation.

Kyle Lowry & Fred VanVleet. Kyle Lowry is doing every usual Kyle Lowry thing, and the Raptors have their point guard playing his best basketball heading into the postseason. Remember when we wondered if Fred VanVleet could be a starting guard in this league? His game continues to grow and he’s now possibly the most underrated defender in the league.

Stanley Johnson. I cannot believe this team has given us absolutely everything we could ask for from a regular season from a defending championship team. Including a Stanley Johnson game-winner.

To be determined

Pascal Siakam. Siakam will always be more than just a primary option on offence to the Raptors. That’s a good thing, and a reminder that his energy and elite defensive skills makes Spicy P an impact player every time he’s on the floor. However, the shooting numbers have been subpar in the bubble, and mostly because Siakam is still a streaky shooter. We’ll see if this becomes an actual concern when the playoffs start.

Serge Ibaka. Ibaka has looked just fine during the seeding games, although his night-to-night performance can be more inconsistent with Marc Gasol back in the starting lineup. There are high expectations for Ibaka in the playoffs, especially given the impressive regular season he was having prior to the shutdown. Also: I was expecting some Gran Destino How Hungry Are You episodes. Oshae Brissett is seriously threatening to become the content king of this team.

Marc Gasol. Opponents are simply not scoring when Gasol is on the floor. The new and improved physique was the Raptors conversation heading into the restart, and now we get to see in the playoffs whether the all-too-often unselfish Gasol can give his team a spark on the offensive end as well.

Norman Powell. Another player who everyone is waiting on seeing whether his regular-season success will translate into the postseason. Powell will be counted on to provide scoring with the second unit as the sixth man in the playoffs. We know very well what Powell can produce in the playoffs. This season, we’re counting on him to come through every night, instead of once a series.

Down

Terence Davis has looked off of late. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Terence Davis has looked off of late. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Terence Davis. Davis has been disappointing in the seeding games, and has fouled out of his last two contests coming into Friday’s matchup against the Denver Nuggets. The inconsistency makes him a question mark heading into the playoffs.

Pat McCaw. McCaw left the bubble last week to seek treatment for a recurrence of a benign mass on the back of his left knee and is out indefinitely. Even though he has been a lightning rod for Raptors fans this season, McCaw can contribute and play a role in the postseason. But his availability for the rest of the year is now up in the air.

The Bucks and Sixers social teams. Milwaukee, what are you doing? Philadelphia, what are you doing?

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