The Toronto Raptors: Their Young Canadian Nucleus

The Toronto Raptors are the only current Canadian-based NBA franchise. However, the Raptors have traditionally not had Canadian players on their roster.

This changed with the birth of the Raptors 905 in the National Development League (now the NBA G-League), creating another pathway to the NBA. The 905 replaced the Mississauga Power, which was a National Basketball League of Canada team according to Drew Ebanks of On Point Basketball.

The Young Canadian Nucleus of the Toronto Raptors

Chris Boucher

Background

Chris Boucher is a power forward for the Toronto Raptors. He was born in Castries, Saint Lucia on January 11, 1993. Also, Boucher was brought up in the Saint-Michel, which is a neighbourhood in the Montreal borough of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension.

He played high school in Alma, Quebec at Damase Boulanger. Boucher is one of three NBA players from the province of Quebec. Quebec is becoming the next Canadian basketball hotbed after the province of Ontario.

Offense and Defense

In 62 games played, Boucher averaged 6.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.0 block per game in the 2019-20 NBA season. He also had career-highs in field goal percentage and minutes played.

Boucher had 10-19 points 12 times and 20-29 points three times. One of his best games was against the Milwaukee Bucks on August 10. He had 25 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, steals, and blocks each.

Boucher was tied for 94th with a decent defensive rating of 103.8 in the 2019-20 NBA season.  This is according to stats.nba.com. He was not as great in the NBA playoffs. He averaged only 1.1 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. Furthermore, his defensive rating was significantly worse at 108.4.

With that being said, Boucher did not get much playing time and only played in seven of the Raptors 11 playoff games. He was also not expected to do too much in the NBA playoffs. It also does not take away from what Boucher accomplished in the 2019-20 NBA season.

This is what Nick Nurse said about Boucher and his ability to play defense according to Yahoo Sports Canada. It came after the Raptors defeated the Orlando Magic 113-97 on November 20:

“When Chris is amped up and he’s been pretty amped up most nights he’s at the rim blocking a few shots and grabbing a few big rebounds offensive tip-ins.”

A clear example of this was in the Raptors 113-104 win on November 10 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Oshae Brissett

Background

Oshae Brissett was born in Toronto, Ontario on June 20, 1998. Brissett moved to Mississauga when he was four years old according to Louis Zatzman of Raptors Republic. His first high school was at St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Mississauga.

Brissett would move away from his parents and go to his second-high school of Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada. After Findlay Prep, his third high school was Athlete Institute in Mono, Ontario. Brissett excelled as on of their team leaders according to Sam Fortier of The Daily Orange.

Brissett went undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft. However, according to Daniel Reynolds of Raptors HQ, Brissett signed an Exhibit 10 Deal on July 20, 2019. This was a contract that allowed Brissett to get an invite to the Raptors training camp and make the team according to Steven Loung of Sportsnet. According to Reynolds of Raptors HQ, Brissett’s contract was converted into a two-way contract on October 21, 2019. Lastly, Brissett can play both the small forward and shooting guard positions.

Offense and Defense

Brissett averaged 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds in the 2019-20 NBA season in 19 games played. This includes scoring in double-figure points once, which was a career-high for him. The game was against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 7.

The Toronto Raptors lost that game by two points, but Brissett played a big role in keeping the Raptors close. He had 12 points, six rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Brissett made five field goals out of nine field-goal attempts and made two out of four three-point attempts.

Although Brissett only played 19 games, he had the best defensive rating out of all the Toronto Raptors players at 96.5.

Overview of the Toronto Raptors Young Canadian Nucleus

Significance of the Raptors 905

It is important to note that the Raptors 905 played a big role. Both Boucher and Brissett needed to play well in the NBA G-League before getting to the NBA. In the 2018-19 NBA G League season, he averaged 27.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.1 blocks, while also having a 61.1 percent true-shooting rate. This is according to Brady Klopfer of Golden State of Mind.

As a result of his success with the Raptors 905, he played more than half the 2019-20 NBA season. Brissett was also successful in the G-League.

In the 2019-20 G-League season, he averaged 14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. His play in the G-League played a big role in Brissett getting playing time with the Raptors.

The Future of the Two Young Canadian Prospects

Chris Boucher

Boucher is now at the start of his peak at age 27. Furthermore, Boucher might have a chance of an NBA starting role in the 2020-21 NBA season. Both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are free agents this offseason. Gasol plays the center position and Ibaka plays both the center and power forward position. However, if Boucher is to get a starting role, both Ibaka and Gasol would have to leave the organization.

This is because Pascal Siakam is currently an NBA All-Star and one of the best players with the Raptors. Furthermore, both Siakam and Boucher both play the power forward position. This would mean Boucher might be forced to play the starting center position for the Raptors. It is an adjustment, but one that is possible to accomplish. Power forwards and centers are similar positions in the NBA and there are players like Ibaka who can play both positions.

However, this is assuming the Raptors do not make changes of their own. According to Ryan Snellings of Clipper Holics, The Los Angeles Clippers have a power forward named Montrezl Harrell who could be headed to the Raptors. However, everything is up in the air.

Oshae Brissett

Unfortunately for Brissett, he will most likely remain as a backup. He may be able to increase his playing time as he can play both the small forward and shooting guard positions. The small forward position does not have much depth behind OG Anunoby.

However, it will be hard to replace one of the Raptors’ best defensive players in the NBA with Anunoby. Furthermore, the shooting guard position is an extremely hard position to even get playing time in. Fred VanVleet was the third-best player for the Raptors in the 2019-20 NBA season. Lastly, Powell, who averaged 16 points per game in the 2019-20 NBA season, is the backup.

Brissett, however, is only 22 years old. He will have many chances to prove himself to get playing time and perhaps become an NBA starter one day.

Main Image: Embed from Getty Images