Former Pitt basketball star Justin Champagnie put on the best performance of his young NBA career on Tuesday night, as he poured in a career-high 14 points off the bench for the Toronto Raptors in their 129-104 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. In addition, the Pitt alum achieved the feat in just 13 minutes.
All told, Champagnie contributed 14 points and three rebounds on Tuesday, and 12 of those points came courtesy of a phenomenal 4-for-5 showing from beyond the arc, with the other two coming on a tip-in. Champagnie scored his first six points of the night on two three-point shots in the second quarter and added eight additional points in the fourth quarter.
Champagnie previously scored 17 points for the Raptors in their 123-107 preseason win over the Philadelphia 76ers. However, his 14-point performance on Tuesday was his best at the professional level in a non-exhibition game. Prior to that, his career-high mark was 10 points, which he contributed to a 124-101 win over the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 13. That was a less efficient game for Champagnie, though, as he also logged a career-high 25 minutes of court time in that matchup.
Given that previous benchmark, Champagnie’s game on Tuesday can be viewed as a major leap forward in terms of efficiency as well as a promising sign of things to come. With that said, he will need to work on his consistency, as he was unable to contribute much in December despite an uptick in minutes. But with January off to a good start, Champagnie appears to be moving in the right direction.
Currently, Champagnie is averaging 3.0 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.2 assists over 7.6 minutes per game as a bench player for the Raptors. In his time with the Raptors’ G League affiliate, he has fared better, as he has averaged 13.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists at that level. Of course, a key difference there is that he has also averaged 27.5 minutes per game.
Considering what Champagnie is able to accomplish on the court when given time, it seems his stats should improve as he begins to gain the trust of the Raptors staff and earns additional opportunities to play. That process could take a while, as the Raptors staff has been consistently allotting more minutes to the likes of Precious Achiuwa, Khem Birch, Chris Boucher and Yuta Watanabe of late. But Champagnie could force his way onto the court if he can continue to make the most of his minutes the way he did on Tuesday.