The battle for one of the Toronto Raptors’ final roster spots is as evenly matched and cutthroat as possible. Holdover Justin Champagnie seems like the most likely player to nab that spot for Nick Nurse, but a collection of new additions spearheaded by former No. 4 pick Josh Jackson are giving him everything he can handle.
While Exhibit 10 rookie Gabe Brown has hit a few 3-pointers and D.J. Wilson is providing more of the two-way skills he showed during his brief stint with Toronto last year, Jackson has looked exactly like what a top-five pick and former No. 1 recruit should look like against a bunch of undrafted rookies.
With Dalano Banton locking up one of the final roster spots, it’s becoming almost impossible for Toronto to keep both Champagnie and Jackson. Nurse’s latest comments might be bad news for the Pitt alum, as he outlined what traits he is looking for out of his final man.
According to Michael Grange, Nurse said that he may use the final spot on the player who shows the most offensive potential. Considering how Jackson and Wilson have shown flashes on that end, this is bad news for Champagnie should Nurse follow through with this philosophy.
Toronto Raptors: Will Nick Nurse keep Justin Champagnie?
While Jackson did go 1-9 in a loss against the Bulls, he was impressive in a win against the Jazz and keyed a 19-point comeback in a win against the Celtics. Jackson has been flexing his athletic muscles with regularity in the preseason, flying to the rim and finishing off some tough shots.
Jackson has averaged 11.3 points per game for his career and is just one season removed from putting up 13.4 points per game as a member of the Detroit Pistons. Still just 25 years old, even the biggest Champagnie fans will have to admit that Jackson is a much better scorer right now.
Champagnie hit just 10 3-pointers last season, and four of them came in one game. Unless he has made major improvements in that area, which will be hard to accurately assess in the limited time he has been healthy, his chances of making the roster may shrink.
Friday’s preseason finale against the Celtics is going to be one of the most important games of Champagnie’s life. If he puts up a stinker or doesn’t hit multiple 3-pointers in this game, there is a very good chance that Nurse ends up going with Jackson as the 15th man on the roster.