Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse wasn't lying when he said Precious Achiuwa likes to play with "a lot of force." The 6-foot-9, 225-pound center has always been the aggressor on the basketball court. He likes to hit first and ask questions later, hoping his physical play deters bigger centers from trying to post-up inside.
Unfortunately for Chris Boucher, getting on the wrong side of Achiuwa can lead to some accidental friendly fire from time to time.
"We were playing five-on-five and I was putting my hand up and Precious came full speed and my finger got jammed into his body. That's when it got dislocated," said Boucher who is set to return to the Raptors lineup Wednesday night after missing the preseason with the dislocated left middle finger.
It shouldn't take Boucher very long to get back up to speed. He's been around the team all summer and his conditioning won't be a problem, he said.
This year is going to be a big one for Boucher who, in just his fourth season with the organization, is somehow among the team's most experienced and oldest players. He's taken massive steps forward over the past few seasons, developing into a valuable role player who can let it fly from three-point range and terrorize three-point shooters on the other end of the court. If that carries over, the 28-year-old could be in line for a pretty big payday at season's end.
"To be honest with you, my whole career, especially in Toronto, nothing was really promised," Boucher said. "Obviously it's a more important year, but I put in a lot of work on myself and to get to know the system and knowing what the coach wants and just adjusting."
The key for Boucher is consistency. He's always been a very streaky player. He'll bang in a three-pointer, block another one at the other end, and then get lost in rotation, or forget to box out for a rebound all in the span of just a few plays. He can be Mr. Momentum at times, helping Toronto jump ahead or sending things spiraling down with a few disappointing minutes off the bench.
For Nurse, it's not about those highlight-reel plays. While those spotlight moments are certainly exciting, it's the moments in between them that matter most when it comes to Boucher. Even if the ceiling stays high, it's the floor that Toronto wants Boucher to raise. If he can do that and stay healthy, the money will certainly follow.