Last May, Air Alamo published an article examining six prospects from the Big East Conference that the Silver and Black should take a gander at. Number four on that star-studded checklist was none other than Julian Champagnie, who now wears number 30 for your San Antonio Spurs. At least for now...
With the lightning-quick forward hitting the restricted free agent market this offseason, could San Antonio be considering life without one of the biggest steals from the 2022 NBA Draft? If that answer is yes, then perhaps Spurs leadership should reconsider.
The rookie out of St. Johns lived up to the hype surrounding him while he was balling out for the Red Storm back east. Anytime a rookie averages double-digit points off the bench, that should be considered a successful acquisition for the ball club and an achievement that sways their year-end evaluation.
I have never been a big stats or numbers kind of guy. But what I do know is the data doesn't lie. The St. Johns alum hit some impressive milestones during his first go-round, which is something even the most sought-after rookies don't always accomplish.
Julian averaged 11.0 points per game despite consistently playing under 30 minutes on most nights, and that's a notable feat. Number 30 secured his first double-double, laced up 24 points in 25 minutes against the Blazers, and even convinced legendary coach Gregg Popovich to insert him into the starting lineup a few times during the final leg of the season.
Those three things are reason enough to make a case for Champagnie to stay in San Antonio. Add in his consistent production, and do we need anything else to see that he is worth keeping around for another season? I would say no. But do I make that decision? Also no.
Perhaps the general manager or whoever has the final say wants to see more. Some folks need that warm and fuzzy to make sure. Can Julian make the powers that be feel what they need to feel to justify the Spurs bringing the young man back for a second season? Yes, he sure can. This guy can warm you up quicker than my abuela's homemade tortilla soup on a cold day. And he does it in more ways than one.
Take your pick of pristine back door cuts, his range from beyond the arc, or his unselfish passing and ability to find the open man. Each of those valuable skills were frequently on display during his abbreviated rookie campaign, but the flashes were 100% real.
Go back through the history books and watch Sean Elliott during his younger years and tell me Julian doesn't remind any hoops fan of Sean in his early days. Is it possible that Champagnie's career turns out anything like Elliott's did in San Antonio? Who knows. But they will never find out if the Spurs don't give him a shot, and the franchise owes it to themselves, their fans, and South Texas to invest in Champagnie.
He is humble, teachable, listens, plays as a team, and only cares about winning. If that doesn’t sound like the San Antonio Spurs way I have come to know after two decades of dominance, then I do not know what is. Julian Champagnie was practically born to wear Silver and Black, and that should be enough for another audition in the 2-1-0.