As the Toronto Raptors’ preseason schedule starts to wind down, it appears as though Dalano Banton has done more than enough to make the final roster as one of the two non-guaranteed players who will be in the 15-man group. Justin Champagnie, once thought to be a lock after a solid rookie year, is on less stable ground.
Champagnie appeared to be the favorite for that final spot, as Josh Jackson and D.J. Wilson came in as non-guaranteed fliers that lacked tons of experience with Toronto’s schemes. Following Jackson’s offensive showings and Wilson’s impressive two-way skill, the race for the final spot has never been tighter. Champagnie knows it.
“It’s a struggle,” Champagnie said via Aaron Rose of Sports Illustrated. “Everyone knows the position I’m in, how I’ve got to play for it and show that I belong here.” Champagnie said that it’s “been kind of tough” sitting out, but he stressed that he “can’t really look back at it now.”
Champagnie played eight minutes in his season debut, a loss against the Chicago Bulls. With just one point and one rebound, he didn’t exactly stuff the stat sheet. Is Champagnie close to seeing his Raptors career come to an end, or is Nick Nurse going to keep him around?
Will the Toronto Raptors cut Justin Champagnie?
Champagnie’s efforts to make the team may have been boosted by some poor performances out of other bench players. Jackson went 1-9 shooting in just eight minutes, Wilson was a -11 in just six minutes, and Exhibit 10 rookie Gabe Brown didn’t score a point.
Champagnie’s size and lack of fantastic shooting makes him an inferior rebounder compared to Wilson and a worse scorer than Jackson. His calling card will be effort and positional versatility, but only time will tell how much Nurse and the staff values those traits in this race.
Nurse said that Champagnie “did some good things for us last season” while mentioning that his shooting has taken a very small step in the right direction. However, Nurse added that Champagnie has “got to play” before he can make a firm decision on continuing to invest developmental energy into him.
Some fans think he’s on the verge of getting his walking papers.
Champagnie will get signed by another team two seconds after his hypothetical release, so he doesn’t need to worry about his NBA career coming to a close. However, unless he really dominates in practices and balls out against the Boston Celtics, the possibility of entering the season without him has never been more realistic.