Raptors rookie Justin Champagnie breaks down his career night versus the Spurs on Tuesday, where the undrafted former Pitt star put up 14 points — making five of his six shots, four of five three-pointers, and added three rebounds and a block for good measure. Follow our Raptors coverage all season long on Yahoo Sports Canada.
- You looked locked in from the very beginning [INAUDIBLE] maybe not faking that last shot.
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: The one that I missed? You know, it's crazy. I really didn't want to miss, but I thought it was going to be good. But you know, it went off, and it was all right. I'll live with that one.
- What about the opportunity that's there for you now? I mean, [INAUDIBLE] kind of wide open right now.
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: I always-- whenever I get a chance and, like, I know my time is coming to get an opportunity to show what I can do, I just try and go out there and do what the team needs me to do. You know, today, I was hearing my shot.
So, they told me to continue to shoot and continue to knock them down. So, that's what I did. But I'm always ready for an opportunity to go out there and prove what I'm about and help the team win. So, I'm always ready for that kind-- that kind of challenge.
- Nick mentioned how much time you're putting in on the shooting right now. I mean, tell us about that.
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: Every morning, I've got to get there at 8:30, do my little, you know, pregame-- not pregame, but like pre-practice warm-up. And then I get on the court at 9:00, and I shoot 200 3s-- just corner 3s-- 200 corner 3s every day. And I've been sticking to that for the past couple of weeks. And you know, it's paying off. So I'm going to continue to do it and continue to knock them down for the team.
- Do you find that's the same kind of [INAUDIBLE] you have [INAUDIBLE] in terms of finding rebounds or little cracks during that? Or do you find that now that you're trying to look for shots?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: I mean, I was--
- [INAUDIBLE] find gaps?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: Yeah, I was like that in college. That's how I got a lot of my points in college was just, like, sneaking in little gaps and getting easy pocket passes, and layups, and stuff like that. So, I feel like I'm finding more of a nose for the ball on offense as well. But I know my role on the team is just to go out there and be energy, play defense. Be energy, and if the shots come, take them and knock them down.
- Have they asked you to do anything different shooting wise? [INAUDIBLE] anything or--
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: What do you mean? Like mechanic wise?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: No. They just told me you've just kind of rep it out, just got to keep shooting, and get it more consistent, and just be comfortable shooting it in game. You know, what it was was I was thinking about it too much. Like, my game isn't about thinking. It's about going out there knowing what I've got to do and just doing it. You know, so just getting the reps up, it just feels more like at ease, automatic type thing.
- How come you didn't develop an 3-point approach? Like get more comfortable shooting 3s younger. Like the age you came up, everyone was shooting 3s, right?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: What it was-- what it was the way I played was what got me to where I was at, you know. So I just kind of stuck to it was rebounding, playing defense, and just being energy.
I was never-- I wasn't always a skilled-- most skilled person. So, I just tried to-- I would talk to everybody, basically, on court. And it got me very far so far. So, I just try to continue with that and also add on to the little things in my game.
- What was the text like from your brother's tonight?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: He just-- he called me four times actually. He called me during the game actually. So, I'm pretty sure he was watching, and he probably had something to say. So, I'm about to call him right after this to see what he's saying.
- [LAUGHS] Does he know you can't actually pick up during? First of all, it's amazing--
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: I know he--
- [INAUDIBLE] still call each other.
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: He's crazy. He's nuts. Whenever I have [INAUDIBLE] good game, even the OKC game, he called me in the middle of the game. When I got in the full court, he called me.
- Does he leave a voicemail?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: He always leaves voicemail. Voicemails, texts me, all types of crazy things.
- Like I yell at my mom for that stuff.
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: [LAUGHS] Oh, my mom texts me too. Don't worry. The whole family texts me all the time, you know. But those guys are a big part of what got me here as well. You know, they just give me confidence every day. And so, I love them, and I miss them.
- This is the time of year where we start talking about all-star stuff [INAUDIBLE] you know. What can you say about what Fred brings to this team.
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: All-star. [INAUDIBLE] what he's doing is incredible for himself and for the team. You know, he's a big-- a big part of this team, man. And he's been putting on a show for everybody to see that he deserves to be an all-star.
Me, personally, as his teammate, not being biased, I think he deserves it. You know, he's been doing his thing. And it's fun to watch, man. It's fun to watch.
- We have two questions for you online, Justin. Go ahead, Oren.
- Hey, Justin. Congrats on the win. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is probably your first time playing in front of zero fans in a full arena like this. So, what has that experience been like for you. And like, you just talked about how you're an energy guy. Is it harder for you to bring the energy without the fans?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: I played like this before in college. We didn't have no fans. But this is a much bigger arena, I'll tell you that much. But no, I mean, it's not that hard for me. I mean, my whole aura is built off energy.
Like me as a person, I'm just energy. You know, so it kind of just comes out in the game. I just know how to step it up and just bring it. You know, it's harder trying to, you know what I'm saying, bring it for the whole team.
That's a lot of energy you've got to-- you know, got to exert. But I feel like it just starts with one person, and it just all spreads over. So, I feel like we've been doing a great job with that. And me, myself, I feel like I've been doing a good job bringing energy for the team.
OREN: Thank you.
- And last one is from Vivek. Go ahead, Vivek.
- Hey, Justin. We talked about Fred a little bit. But I was just wondering for you, you know, trying to learn the ropes of what it takes at the NBA level. What stands out to you about Fred and his approach away from the court that maybe we don't get to see?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: Like he always says, just being a professional. Like you know, you've just got to be professional about whatever you do on and off the court, keep it to yourself. And main thing is just work, you know, like know what you're here for, know what your goal is in life, and go after it. So, just being professional and getting to work really.
- And how much do you look up to a guy like him who was undrafted and now is, you know, making that push for an all-star team?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: Oh, those guys mean the world to me-- him, Pascal, OG, [INAUDIBLE]. Like, you know, just as a young guy who was undrafted, trying to make a way for himself in this league and trying to provide for his family, those guys are the stepping stones.
You know what I'm saying? Like looking at their past and how they came up, especially Fred being undrafted like myself, just trying to follow behind the footsteps. You know, just consistently work and wait your turn basically. And when it comes, just be ready to shine.
- Great. Thank you, Justin.
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: Yes, sir. Thank you, guys.