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Prospect Report: A week of learning and one monster performance

The Raptors 905 got a monster game out of Chris Boucher, but it was more of a trying experience for Jordan Loyd. Here’s how things shook out for the 905’s two-way players.

Chris Boucher receives instructions from coach Jama Mahlalela. OKC Blue at Raptors 905 December 12, 2018

The Raptors 905 had a couple of failed comeback attempts last week, as they hosted the OKC Blue and travelled to see the Grand Rapids Drive. Chris Boucher had a career night against the Blue, while Jordan Loyd had two extreme shooting games — going hot for one game and cold in the other.

Here’s how the 905’s chief prospects did overall.

Chris Boucher

47 PTS, % 57.1 FG% (16/28), 40% 3P% (4/10 3PM/A), 8 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 9 BLK 3 TO, +5 +/-

Chris Boucher played only one game last week — a monster 47 point, 8 rebound, 9 block game before getting called up to the mother club following a tough injury to Jonas Valanciunas.

Good

As I’ve said before, every week Boucher is showing something new in his game. Once again, he did not disappoint. In this case: got a lob? Boucher will catch and finish it.

It must be really frustrating for the OKC Blue coaching staff and front-court players, as Boucher pretty much countered everything they threw at him. Unlike Kevin Durant, Boucher does not have an in-between game (mid-range). He’s either a perimeter shooter or he’ll try to blow-by his defender for a layup/dunk.

Against the Blue’s size and length (and I think they zoned up a bit), they made it hard for Boucher to shoot anything other than perimeter shots. Coach Jama Mahlalela made a couple of excellent calls by putting Boucher in pick-and-roll situations and behind the defence for a lob, and Boucher feasted on these two unstoppable plays en route to his monster night.

Bad

If you’ve follow the Prospect Report from the beginning of the season, there’s really nothing new to add here. At this point, Boucher is aware of his weaknesses in the post/paint, and he’s showing more signs of improvement in this area. For example, Tyler Davis — the Blue’s physical centre — had his way against Boucher in the post more than a few times throughout the game. But Boucher was able to defend a few of his post-moves using better positioning combined with his length.

There was even one sequence where Boucher held his own on the post against Davis to force a turnover without relying on his shot-blocking skills. I could be wrong, but that’s probably the first time Boucher forced a turnover in the post just by not letting his man get to his sweet spot, and then moving his feet to cut off where the aggressor wanted to go.

Misc

Boucher got called up soon after the Raptors found out the severity of JV’s injury, and it looks like Boucher might start burning through all of his NBA days pretty fast. If he doesn’t get re-assigned to the G League before then, it could pose an interesting situation for the Raptors, who currently have a roster spot open. With the deadline to guarantee contracts on January 15, and Boucher on the main roster, Toronto may have to make a choice fast. They did so with Lorenzo Brown, who is on such a deal — but with the trade deadline also fast approaching, having an open roster spot might come in handy.

Jordan Loyd

25.5 PPG, 43.9% FG% (9/20.5), 30% 3P% (6/20 3PM/A), 5.5 REB, 7.5 AST, 1 STL, 1.5 TO, +1 +/-

What a weird week for Jordan Loyd. He went from scorching hot (6-of-7 from three) from one game to ice cold (0-of-13) to another. It was very uncharacteristic for Loyd to miss a lot of wide open shots, but those were the shots that he’s accustomed to hitting on a regular basis.

Good

Overshadowed by Boucher’s 47-point game against the Blue was Loyd’s 32 points on 6-of-7 shooting behind the arc. What’s more impressive is that he dropped 25 points in the second half alone, after playing as the floor general in the first half and setting up his teammates for 8 first-half assists. Loyd is starting to took more capable as a point guard. Given his additional offensive skills, I can’t wait to see him get some spot NBA minutes from the main club.

Loyd had a bad shooting night against the Drive. He could have just as easily hung his head after three quarters (or even at the half) and admit that he doesn’t have it that night. However, his resiliency and compete level prevented him from doing that. Yes, Loyd still ended up missing more perimeter shots (13 for that game), but all of those shots were in good rhythm, mostly wide-open, and shot with no hesitation — unlike what we’ve seen lately from C.J. Miles, Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, etc. after struggling a bit.

Loyd did not just keep jacking up perimeter shots — he willed his way to the basket in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points in a failed 905 comeback attempt, after being down as much as 15 points in the final frame. Loyd was also in the thick of the action — fighting for defensive and offensive rebounds, loose balls, defending and trapping, and doing all the little things.

Bad

Early on against the OKC Blue and the Grand Rapids Drive, it looked like Loyd was struggling to get past taller/physical guards and finish his layups. Also, the game against the Blue might be the most emotional game for Loyd — his defenders were being physical and tried to get in his head, and he looked frustrated at times. Loyd got into early foul trouble and picked up his fifth foul with about 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Loyd was actually pleading coach Mahlalela not to take him out because he was starting to get hot inside the arc. Still, given his emotions, coach Jama made the right call and took Loyd out.

Misc

Loyd’s next game won’t be until the NBA G League Winter Showcase, so look for him to bounce back and adjust to life without Boucher, at least for now.

With Boucher projected to miss some 905 games until JV’s back, it will be interesting to see how coach Mahlalela will use Loyd, as opposing teams might be more than happy to let Loyd facilitate rather than catch fire from beyond the arc.