The Toronto Raptors weren’t expecting much out of Pitt forward Justin Champagnie when the 2021-22 season kicked off. After all, the undrafted free agent was signed to a two-way contract and buried behind some established veterans in the Raptors rotation. He looked more like a 905 prize than a prospect the big league club would develop.
Champagnie has shattered those expectations by becoming one of the most exciting players on this roster. His 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game averages don’t do him justice, as he has given the Raptors a boost of energy off of the bench while aiding in their quest to become a better team on the glass.
Still, playing in the NBA means that you’re going to get some haters. With Champagnie not the smoothest offensive creator at this stage of his career, he’s taking aim at everyone who believe that hole in his game is why he can’t carve out a role for himself with Toronto.
Champagnie quote-tweeted one fan who claimed that he is not good enough to play in the NBA, calling him “another person to prove wrong.” Don’t worry about opinions like this, Justin. Raptors fans who watch all the games know the skills you bring to the table and how your presence is helping this team.
Justin Champagnie has been a surprise for the Toronto Raptors.
Champagnie is one of the few Raptors players actually receiving more playing time lately. While veterans like Svi Mykhailiuk and Yuta Watanabe have joined Dalano Banton and Malachi Flynn on the bench, Champagnie has blossomed, putting together the best games of his young career.
In a win against the Spurs, Champagnie nailed four 3-pointers (showing that he is working on one of his college flaws) and scored a career-high 14 points. Against Milwaukee, Champagnie played 30 minutes and recorded 12 rebounds, six of which were offensive.
While he might not be an amazing scorer at this point in his career, he’s just 20 years old and doesn’t even have a proper NBA contract yet.
Considering that Banton has been receiving less playing time by the week and David Johnson has been all but excommunicated from the Raptors’ plans, Champagnie has done an excellent job of asserting himself and exhibiting his value.
While it remains to be seen just how high his ceiling is at the NBA level, Champagnie went from a player picked off the undrafted scrap heap to someone who has leapfrogged over two young players drafted higher than him and two NBA veterans in the rotation.
He’s been a joy to watch, and he should provide Toronto with even more fireworks in the next few seasons.