On Monday, we announced that RGV Vipers guard Michael Frazier was the site’s pick for G League’s Most Improved Player of the Year for the 2018-19 season. Alongside his progression over the course of the season, that selection was also partly due to how he was able to go from being out for the 2017-18 season because of a knee injury to being one of the best forwards in the G League and getting signed by the Houston Rockets
Frazier isn’t the only player to be able to bounce back from injuries suffered in 2017 to become an elite G League prospect. The best example of this has to be 6’10 forward Chris BOucher, who prematurely ended his college career at the University of Oregon after tearing his ACL in a PAC 12 tournament matchup against California.
After not getting selected in that year’s draft, Boucher signed a two-way deal with the GOlden State Warriors. However, he spent all of his rookie season either rehabbing from that injury or playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors. With Santa Cruz, he showed some promise by putting up 11.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game on 47% from the field. Although he showed promise at the G League level, Golden State decided to not retain the forward as they waived him shortly after winning the NBA title.
Luckily, he didn’t have to wait long to know his next location as the Toronto Raptors signed the former Montreal native to a training camp contract that included an Exhibit 10 clause on July 30th. Nearly four months later, the team decided to transform his training camp contract into a two-way deal.
As is the case for most two-way players, Boucher started the season in the G League with the Raptors 905. He immediately shined as arguably the best player in the entire league by putting up numbers that would be hard to do in NBA 2K. From the start of the season to December 31st, he put up 28.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 4.2 blocks on 50% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 7.3 attempts per game.
That tremendous play persisted into the next month as Boucher put up 24.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game. January would be the last month where Boucher would spend most of his time in the G League as the Raptors would transition his two-way contract into a guaranteed deal on February 10th. After that contract, he spent the majority of the remainder of the season with the big league club as he’d only play seven more games with the 905 if you include the 905’s two playoff matches against Grand Rapids and Long Island.
In 28 games with the team, he put up 27.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 4.1 blocks per game on 51% from the field. Although his somewhat limited time in the G League could definitely seem like a detriment when it comes to giving out awards, as Boucher only played in 56% of the 905’s regular season games, the effect that he had on the team is extremely evident from his video game like numbers to the tremendous impact he had on both ends of floor. From an offensive perspective, the 905 were almost 11 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court (111.5 points per 100) compared to when he’s on the sidelines (100.7 points per 100).
Boucher’s positive influence on the team was also seen on the defensive end. In addition to him averaging a league-best 4.1 blocks per game, teams were also five points worse per 100 possessions when he was on the court (100.4 points per 100) compared to when he was either on the sidelines or with the 905 (105.8 points per 100).
Those five points mark the difference between the 905’s defense being 2nd and the 10th best defense in the G League in terms of points per 100 possessions. The 6’10 forward was able to make that impact on the defensive end through the combination of quick feet, solid awareness and the ability to utilize his 7’4 wingspan to swat a bunch of shot attempts.
While he played in less games than most other elite G League players, the impact that he had on the 905 was second to none on both ends of the fiel. However, his work as a defender was definitely his best aspect as evident from his incredible block averages and how opponents were much worse when he was on the court. Those factors is why Ridiculous Upside is proud to name Raptors forward Chris Boucher as our Defensive Player of the Year for the 2018-19 season.