Chris Boucher is blocking threes more often than any player ever

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) blocks a shot by New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Chris Boucher is blocking threes more often than any player ever


Chris Boucher is blocking threes more often than any player ever

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The Toronto Raptors have an incredible player in Chris Boucher, who won NBA G League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.

Boucher is a big man who uses his 7-foot-4 wingspan to make life incredibly challenging for his opponents. In fact, he is currently accomplishing that in a way that has never been done in the NBA.

According to PBP Stats, Boucher is averaging 0.95 blocks on three-pointers per 100 possessions. Based on our research conducted on Feb. 22, that is the highest rate (minimum: 200 minutes) among all players since 2000-01.

While the data is not available before 2000, based on the influx of three-point shooting in the NBA, it is incredibly unlikely anyone has come close to touching this rate.

The previous best marks came from James Johnson (0.88) in 2012-13 and Mitchell Robinson (0.86) in 2018-19.

Boucher has already recorded 14 blocks on three-point attempts so far this season. For context, that ranks as more than every team in the league except for his Raptors (obviously) and the Philadelphia 76ers. After just 31 games, that is more than seven teams recorded during the 82-game season in 2018-19.

Just watch what Boucher did to Indiana Pacers forward Doug McDermott last month. It is the kind of moment that will make anyone fear getting a shot up if Boucher is even on the floor, let alone if he is guarding them.

As for why this may be the case, first, it is important to understand some context. The league-average team is averaging 34.9 three-pointers attempted per game in 2020-21, which is an all-time high. Meanwhile, for the second year in a row, the Raptors are allowing opponents to take three-pointers more often than nearly any team in the league.

So far this season, per Cleaning the Glass, more than 40 percent of the field goal attempts opponents have taken against Toronto have come from beyond the arc. Put those two factors together and that means there are simply more opportunities to contest three-pointers than ever before.

It is no secret that under head coach Nick Nurse, their defensive philosophy has been predicated on conceding shots on the perimeter but preventing looks near the basket. Toronto’s bigs are often aligned and intentionally positioned close to the hoop.  

Boucher, as explained by Blake Murphy, has displayed the unique ability to properly defend the restricted area yet still showcase his remarkable stride to close out on shooters (via The Athletic):

“The Raptors have an elite suite of players who can cause shooters to panic as limbs come flying at them with abandon. It’s not just that the Raptors have the capability to block five 3s in a game, although that’s surely terrifying on its own. It’s also that the Raptors’ shot-blockers can cover a lot of ground quickly, which gives Nick Nurse security in using the team’s aggressive strategies for limiting primary scorers and sealing off the rim, often at the same time.”

Murphy added that Boucher is doing quite a bit more than just swatting the shots. According to his research, opponents are shooting 26.2 percent in three-point attempts against Boucher. That is the lowest mark of anyone who has recorded at least 100 contests from beyond the arc.

Boucher has played an incredibly significant role as a defensive player for the Raptors. During a seven-point victory on Feb. 21, Toronto outscored the Philadelphia 76ers by 32 points when Boucher was on the floor.

Even though Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson is the frontrunner for NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2021, Toronto’s Boucher is giving him a run for his money thus far due to this kind of massive impact.

Below, you can watch a compilation featuring Boucher swatting away a ton of three-pointers last season:

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