Raptors rookie progress reports: Are the youngsters developing?

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 13: Dalano Banton #45 and Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 13: Dalano Banton #45 and Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors, Justin Champagnie
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 12: Justin Champagnie #11 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors committed to building their team with young talent, as they added Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Masai Ujiri added Dalano Banton and David Johnson in the second round before snagging Justin Champagnie as an undrafted free agent.

Toronto hasn’t been shy about throwing them into the fire. Three of the four players have seen at least some chunk of time in the rotation, with Barnes in particular starting every game he’s featured in. As a result, Toronto has picked up a solid 20-18 record to this point.

The Raptors’ success in the near future will be indelibly tied to these players and how quickly they can adjust to the speed of the game. Considering most of them look like solid NBA players, Toronto should feel good about their foundation.

How have the rookies been progressing this season? Should the Raptors feel good about where the youngsters are at or concerned that some of them have seen their upward trajectories start to plateau over the last few weeks?

Toronto Raptors rookie progress report: Are new additions developing?

Justin Champagnie

Positives: Rebounding, Energy

While most undrafted NBA players spend their rookie season mired in the G League, Champagnie has been so darn impressive that he may have earned a more significant chunk of rotation time as Svi Mykhailiuk struggled to fend off the young sparkplug.

When they signed Champagnie as a two-way player following an extremely productive college career at Pitt, Toronto thought they were getting a quality rebounder that goes 110% on every position and finishes looks inside. So far, he’s been able to check those boxes with aplomb.

Justin Champagnie has been a major boost for the Toronto Raptors.

Negatives: Shooting

Champagnie had one insane game where he couldn’t miss from 3-point range, but he’s still below-average in this area. This may be the one reason Nurse is hesitant to put the 6-6 wing in the rotation despite the fact Toronto has been much better on both ends when he is in.

The Raptors have four rookies on their roster, and Champagnie has been getting the second-most minutes after Nurse retooled the rotation late in December. Champagnie should be a part of this team’s bench going forward considering how the effort always perks up when he comes in.

Grade: A-