Why the Raptors' decision on final roster spots is intriguing

Amit Mann and Joshua Howe discuss whether or not Josh Jackson has a realistic shot to make the opening night team and the status of Justin Champagnie heading into training camp. Listen to the full episode discussing training camp battles at each position on our 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: And I think it's a great gamble. Because if you do truly believe that your development staff can help him with his jump shot, can help him find a role with the Toronto Raptors-- and we're going to get to some of the roles and bench pieces in a second-- it's a great flier to take. Because there is certainly a spot for him, I think, with the Raptors, within the scope of what they need.

It's going to come down to his execution, and if he's willing to accept that kind of role. Because like you said, fourth overall pick, someone that had a ton of upside at one point. And 25 years old-- he's not exactly 30. There's still lots of time for him.

But with the Raptors, they're looking for people to fill in holes, to fill in roles with the starters. Because they've-- last season, we saw that they kind of found themselves with how they're going to be figuring out their halfcourt offense, the rhythm. Pascal Siakam's emergence, Scottie Barnes needs touches, all that kind of stuff. So they just need players to come off the bench and fill the needs. And if he wants to do that, or if he's willing to, I see-- there's a chance, right? There's obviously a chance.

The camp battles are going to be absolutely hectic. What do you think this means for a player like Justin Champagnie, who is also on a non-guaranteed deal? He enters this training camp-- probably most people thought that he would probably be on next season's team. But with Hernangomez, with Josh Jackson, to me, this does signal a couple of things with how the Raptors are going to be approaching training camp. But I'll let you start.

JOSHUA HOWE: Yeah, and just to quickly touch on, like, Gabe Brown, I know some people are going to be like, what about Gabe Brown? Like, he's kind of comparable, right, to Josh Jackson?

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

JOSHUA HOWE: I mean, the thing with him is, he's the only player who's signed to an Exhibit 10 deal going into camp, which means the Raptors have an eye, obviously, to bring him to the 905. So kind of looking at it this way, as he's probably not going to make the roster. He's going to go compete for a chance, right? But he's probably not going to be on the final roster. So it's more about getting him over to the 905, develop there, and just get the $50k there that he's guaranteed if he goes that route.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

JOSHUA HOWE: So just wanted to bring that up because I know there'll be some people who are like, what about Gabe Brown?

AMIT MANN: No, not a bad idea.

JOSHUA HOWE: Yeah, but yeah, Justin Champagnie, I don't-- it's interesting. I'm not really sure his spot is in so much trouble just because every time you talk to anyone around the Raptors, they love him, right?

AMIT MANN: Sure.

JOSHUA HOWE: They just-- they constantly bring up how much they like him. He's a hard worker. He's that kind of-- 6' 6", but plays like he's 6' 10" kind of guy.

All over the offensive glass, always comes in when the team needs him. He's been part of the 905 program. He's sort of embedded in the Raptors' culture now, and has really come into his own there as part of the team.

And so another guy like Hernangomez who comes in-- and like you mentioned off the top, has a guaranteed deal, also the only guy who got a guaranteed deal. There are guys who are really competing here for a roster spot. Obviously, like you mentioned, again, he could be cut, but that's a pretty good indicator, I think, that he's probably going to make the team. So--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

JOSHUA HOWE: --I don't know what you think about this, but I'm actually of the mindset they're probably both going to make the team. And if you're going to have Hernangomez, another 6' 9" guy, probably having him maybe at the more traditional four spot, most of the time, Champagnie can shift down, can play the smaller forward spot at 6' 6".

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

JOSHUA HOWE: So I think those two guys are probably taking up two of those spots already, going through who we can think is going to make the team here. But--

AMIT MANN: Yeah, sure.

JOSHUA HOWE: --yeah, I mean, I think unless something unexpected happens, both going to make it, and both-- I think it's their spots to lose, to be honest with you. I don't think they-- I think they're operating from a position of some leverage here.

AMIT MANN: Sure, gotcha. So that would, in theory then, leave no spots. Because I think it's fair to say that Dalano Banton is probably going to make the team. Yeah.

JOSHUA HOWE: Right, right.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, yeah, so that would be the two spots right there. Not to burst the bubble of the discussion, but I think that's fair to say. The only reason I bring up the Champagnie thing is I just found it interesting that they're willing to do something like that. And you know, obviously, he suffered a hand injury just before Summer League. And you do want to fill all the training camp roster spots, no question.

And for sure, maybe like Josh Jackson, who knows what happens with him? Maybe he isn't getting other offers. Maybe he's in the G League. Like, it's hard to say how things are going to go.

I do believe that Justin Champagnie-- I think the Raptors like him. I think he's absolutely a fit from the get-go when he said that, hey, I want to be a Toronto Raptor. I turned down other offers from other teams because I wanted to become a Toronto Raptor.

He went undrafted, and he says, I want to be with the Raptors. He told his agent, hey, make me a Raptor. Can we make it happen?

And he fits the identity. He was asked to do a couple of things during the offseason. They asked him to speed up his jumper, which I'm sure he has done.

And we haven't seen too much of him-- a little bit of Rico Hines Run action at the last run, which was a great time for all of us because it was servicing our basketball needs during a time where there wasn't much going on. But he does-- he's going to be a great rebounder. And I think he's going to be-- he's going to accept his role within the Toronto Raptors, which is extremely important.

He's not going to deviate. He's going to do exactly what he's been told to do. And he's only 21 years old.

And the Raptors, they don't often care too much about age, necessarily. But him at this point of his career, what he offers, he's truly a natural fit. The Justin Jackson-- or the Josh Jackson thing, it was interesting because are we getting to a point where Justin is competing against a guy who was a fourth overall pick, and has been playing in the NBA for a couple of years? But I mean, maybe not, right?

This is going to come down to the approach of the Raptors, and how important it is to them that they have depth on depth on depth to service all the needs, which is a lot of catch and shoot, wingspan-y wings.

JOSHUA HOWE: Yeah, and I do think, you know, people will look at it and be like, well, the Raptors need guards, right? But I'm not sure they're too concerned with oversaturating traditional positions--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

JOSHUA HOWE: --having too many forwards or whatever, right? Because vision 6' 9", I mean, they want guys who can do a little bit of everything. They want positional flexibility.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

JOSHUA HOWE: A guy like Champagnie can bring that. Plays up a spot, can play down a spot. But they have guys also who can handle-- yeah, guys-- and guys who can handle the playmaking spots from different positions.

I mean, opening night, Siakam's likely to be the starting center, right? But he can play point guard. He will play point guard a lot of the time, offensively. So--

AMIT MANN: I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it.

JOSHUA HOWE: [LAUGHS]

AMIT MANN: Funky. Let's do funky.

JOSHUA HOWE: And Scottie, same thing, right? Yeah, you're going to see a whole bunch of these lineups. There's forwards handling the ball all the time. So I don't think the Raptors are going to be too concerned about, oh, we absolutely need to be filling out with guards here. So I think seeing the two forwards there, it won't be too much of a surprise.