The Toronto Raptors are reportedly signing University of Pittsburgh sophomore forward Justin Champagnie after he went undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft.
An undersized combo forward who battled a knee injury last season but was still named All-ACC, Champagnie is a high-energy player who you’ll never wont for more effort out of.
Here’s more on the new reported Raptors signing.
Position: Small forward/power forward
Height: Six-foot-six | Weight: 200 lbs
2020-21 stats: PPG: 18.0 | RPG: 11.1 | FG%: 47.7 | 3P%: 31.1
Plays bigger than he actually is
At six-foot-six and 200 pounds, Champagnie doesn’t seem like a very imposing figure at the four spot, but, as his stats from last season indicate, he’s a real load -- and that’s because he’s learned the art of playing bigger than his actual listed measurements.
Champagnie is blessed with a wingspan that’s close to seven feet, but he was mainly able to get his game off because he’s a smart cutter and understands angles.
As well, he’s a player with a very high motor and it shows with how relentlessly he crashes the glass on both ends. A fierce competitor, Chamapagnie is a very strong rebounder because he has the kind of fearlessness going for the board that every great rebounder you can think of has, despite his shorter height.
Because of the energy he plays with, there’s a good chance Champagnie could end up as a fan-favourite player as Toronto fans always get behind blue-collar types like Champagnie.
Absolutely needs to improve his three-point shot to stick
Unfortunately for Champagnie, while he managed to thrive at the collegiate level against power forwards and other bigs, that isn’t a very realistic scenario for him at the NBA level. He will likely have to move full-time to the wing, where he’ll then have to markedly improve as a shooter from what he’s shown so far.
Champagnie went just 23-of-74 from deep last season in 20 games and, in his freshman season, was 33-of-126 from three-point range in 33 games played.
Part of these low percentages is due to poor shot selection at times, but you don’t miss that often from three just because you sometimes take a bad shot. He was a 74.5 per cent career free-throw shooter over the course of his two years at Pitt, indicating that his mechanics might not be as bad as his percentages indicate, but given how undersized he is to play power forward, his path to NBA success will be likely playing as a reserve swingman, meaning he’ll be expected to space the floor and knock down an open three when the ball comes to him.
Has a twin brother who’s at least as talented as he is
An interesting fact about Champagnie is that he actually has a twin brother, Julian, who is playing at St. John’s and led the Red Storm in scoring last season, averaging 19.8 points per game.
Julian had his name in the draft this year but withdrew it in favour of return for his junior year at St. John’s. Had he remained in there’s a chance he would’ve been a hotter target for teams in the draft than Justin was, as Julian is more of a traditional wing with an excellent outside stroke.
But, who knows, if the opportunity arises next year, maybe the Raptors will be able to have both Champagnie brothers on their roster.