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Prospect Report: Growing Pains for the 905

A packed short week had the Raptors 905 go through some adversity, but the outcome is still the same.

Toronto Raptors v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It was a busy week last week for the 905, as they played three games in a span of four days. The Raptors 905 was a rude host to the Iowa Wolves last Wednesday as part of the ESPN All-Access feature on the Toronto Raptors. Coach Jama Mahlalela and the gang then traveled to Wisconsin and to the DMV area for a back-to-back whoopin’ against the Wisconsin Herd (ha!) and the Capital City Go-Go (ha!).

Unfortunately, Malachi Richardson was not assigned for any of these games, so it came down to the Raptors two-way players Chris Boucher and Jordan Loyd to provide the beating.

Chris Boucher

22.7 PPG, 40.4% FG% (8.3/20.7), 36% 3P% (9/25 3PM/A - TOT), 8.7 REB, 1 AST, 0.7 STL, 5 BLK, 2 TO, +20 +/-

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Chris Boucher’s worst week as a Raptors 905: 22 points, almost 9 rebounds, and 5 blocks a game. Boucher also single-handedly destroyed the Iowa Wolves, all but making them quit in a single half, and he also keyed the runs that the 905 needed to defeat the Herd and the Go-Gos. Not bad.

Good

Chris Boucher is a bad man, and regardless if he’s having a bad game or not, he comes to the court with ill-intention.

It was fun to see Boucher destroy the Iowa Wolves and he showcased everything that he’s capable of in one half: three-pointers, fastbreak layups, ISO from the three-point line for a blow-by layup or a step-back long two, floaters, leading the fast-break and setting up teammates, getting to the line, and his regular dose of blocking shots as a help defender. The Wolves had no hope for that game.

Boucher had a miserable game against the Herd as he struggled to shoot against taller and more physical defenders, netting only 8 points through three quarters. However, Boucher came back in the fourth and provided the spark that the 905 needed by dropping 11 points, including three clutch triples.

Bad

The game against the Wisconsin Herd was a rude awakening for our boy, Boucher. That game was probably the first time that Boucher faced an NBA-caliber big man. Christian Wood — whose NBADraft.net profile had “very skinny, needs to bulk up to describe him — looked like Joel Embiid on the post being guarded by someone, let’s say, like Solomon Alabi.

Wood, who had over an inch and quite a few pounds on Boucher, was very physical against and 905’s star and drove straight through him on his drives and post-ups. It didn’t help that Boucher readily gave up the post position, didn’t put a body on Wood on 50/50 balls, and on face-up situations, had nothing to give outside of trying to block the shot, which resulted in him getting in foul trouble. For the latter, Boucher lacked the fundamentals such as getting a step ahead of Wood’s drive (most of his drives were straight-lines to the basket) and staying vertical to make Wood’s attempts a bit harder.

I’m a little bit concerned here with Boucher’s shooting overall. During this stretch, he’s shooting around 40% from the field, and his FT% is at 60%. Is he getting tired from having to carry the load offensively while getting worked defensively? Coming into this stretch, Boucher was at 53% FG% and 79% FT%.

Misc

It seems that the content of the “Bad” section won’t change much throughout the season. While it’s easy to use Boucher’s under-developed body as an excuse, he could definitely learn a few fundamental things such as:

  • Post defense positioning (including not letting your man easily get to their sweet spot);
  • Boxing-out (positioning, grabbing a body, etc.);
  • Verticality on defense (he doesn’t need to block every shot).

Jordan Loyd

17.3 PPG, 37.9% FG% (5.7/15), 36% 3P% (8/22 3PM/A - TOT), 6 REB, 6.3 AST, 1.7 STL, 3 TO, +10 +/-

Loyd had a rough week shooting-wise, but as a full-fledged NBA G-League point guard, he’s getting better at it.

Good

I’m enjoying the PnP/PnR chemistry that Loyd and Boucher have right now; this action could be unstoppable come playoff time. As a point guard, Loyd can read pretty well where Boucher needs to get the ball whether it’s a “pop” or a “roll” and he does a great job getting that pass through in traffic.

Another thing to like about Loyd: since getting the starting PG spot, his FG attempts haven’t seen an uptick. He seems to be good with his shots and willing to do everything else (crashing the boards, playing defense, facilitating) while taking a backseat to a teammate that’s feeling it, as what happened with Boucher, Duane Notice, and Rodney Pryor, who all had their moments last week.

Bad

It looks like the increase in minutes and usage is affecting Loyd, as his shooting percentages were sub-par for this week. Loyd missed a lot of wide open looks around the arc, and even in the mid-range area — shots mostly designed for him to catch-and-shoot. What’s a bit concerning is his shot selection when he doesn’t see his perimeter shots go down. Loyd attacked the basket going against multiple defenders — maybe to draw a foul, I don’t know, but the finish wasn’t great. However, this issue feels like it’s just a matter of Loyd adjusting to his new full-time role.

There’s also an uptick on Loyd’s turnovers since he took over the starting PG spot, which seems fair until you watch how he’s turned the ball over. A good majority of Loyd’s turnovers were self-inflicted — he would get caught in the air trying to make a pass or he would get deep into the teeth of the defense trying to probe and would get trapped or get the ball poked away. Suffice it to say, as a point guard, he’s not 2018-2019 Kyle Lowry yet.

Misc

I have to say I’m really impressed with coach Jama’s utilization of Loyd. It wasn’t pre-planned for Loyd to take over the starting point-guard duties since the 905 previously had Kay Felder, but Loyd is getting a good mix of running the point and playing off the ball to get his reps as a catch-and-shoot and/or cutter to the basket.

Also, Loyd was recently featured on Raptors905’s “Beyond the Ball” series:

Check back next week for another Prospect Report!