Chris Boucher was never supposed to get an NBA payday.
His story has been told over and over again: A child of poverty who dropped out of school at 16 so he could help support his family. He's supposed to be a statistic, one of the over 3 million Canadians that live below the poverty line. And yet, he's been able to persevere, defying the odds and inking a two-year, $13.5-million deal with a non-guaranteed second year to stay with the Toronto Raptors.
To Boucher, there's nothing he can't do. It doesn't matter that at 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds he isn't quite big enough to play inside, nor offensively skilled enough to shoot from the perimeter. Instead, he's been able to overcome his physical limitations to carve out a serviceable role in the NBA.
But now the question for Boucher is how much more can he take on? He's gone from a G-Leauge MVP and Defensive Player of the Year to a role player in the NBA. Now, with Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol playing in Los Angeles next season, the Raptors will need Boucher to take another step forward.
"I think that coming in this year my role is more clear," he said Wednesday. "I come in with a different mindset where I know OK, I might be one of the main guys, I might be one of the guys that knows the system more especially with new guys coming in and all that. I’ve become a vet kind of."
He said he's spent much of the last few months watching tape and trying to work on his decision making. At times last season, he settled for ill-advised outside shots. This year that's something he said he's been working on.
"I started watching film and realized, OK, you settled for this shot, you probably could have beat him going right [or] left," he said.
Physically, Boucher said he's been working on rounding out his body and trying to get comfortable playing with some added weight. Prior to the NBA's return this summer, he said he added 15 pounds. But additional weight isn't always a good thing and it might have hindered him in the Orlando Bubble.
"Gaining weight was one thing, but also being able to play with the weight and being to adjust, like I said, there was a lot of stuff I had to get stronger," he said.
If Boucher can continue to refine his game, then there will certainly be playing time for him next season and potentially an even bigger spot for him in Toronto down the road.