Former Raptors fan favorite joins Celtics after G League stint

MONTREAL, CANADA - OCTOBER 14: Vice-Chairman and team president of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, CANADA - OCTOBER 14: Vice-Chairman and team president of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have had to make some very hard decisions this season with regard to roster building, as names like Juancho Hernangomez have come and gone in Toronto’s constant turnover. Justin Champagnie was beloved by fans, but he was forced to be axed for cap reasons.

After joining the Raptors as an undrafted free agent following a fantastic season at Pitt, Champagnie performed well enough on a two-way contract to earn a multi-year deal. After winning a preseason competition, he figured to be a valued bench player in his second professional season north of the border.

With limited opportunities, Champagnie was released and soon signed with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the G League affiliate of the Miami Heat. Champagnie never played for the Heat, but his play (18 points, eight rebounds per game) was strong enough to warrant consideration from another team.

Champagnie has officially rejoined the ranks of the NBA, signing a contract with the Boston Celtics. Champagnie’s style of play endeared him to Raptors fans, and he will likely do the same with Toronto’s hated rival in Boston for the remainder of the season.

Former Toronto Raptors wing Justin Champagnie signs with Celtics

Champagnie averaged 2.2 points and 1.9 rebounds per game with Toronto in 39 games, but showed off a surprising skill on the offensive end when tasked. Even in his limited playing time during his first professional stop, he proved to be an NBA-level rebounder, defender, and hustler on both ends.

Champagnie can score more than many thought he would, but his lack of a varied offensive game is what led Toronto and Miami to declare him as a non-essential piece eventually. He can finish inside and hit open 3-pointers when he gets time to set up, but his on-ball creation is still lacking.

Going to Boston could be a good spot for him, as they have a strangely solid track record of turning fringe players into solid NBA players that can come right in and make a legitimate impact. Boston may put Champagnie in against Toronto during one of their two consecutive home games against them.

The Raptors are normally not a team that lets developmental prospects like Champagnie escape from their grasp before they hit their full potential. In much the same way Svi Mykhailiuk tore Toronto apart, Champagnie may just turn into a Raptors killer that helps snatch wins away from the squad.

Next. 7 players the Raptors gave up on too soon. dark