Sixers rookie in G League, Joel Embiid, NBA debut

PHILADELPHIA — Julian Champagnie hasn’t seen much action for the Philadelphia 76ers this season. But as the Sixers deal with multiple injuries to key players, the Rookie wing has been called up to provide some depth.

Champagnie, the twin brother of Toronto Raptors forward Justin Champagnie, is signed to a two-way deal with the Sixers. The 21-year-old has shown flashes with the Delaware Blue Coats, their G League affiliate, most notably in a 39-point performance two weeks ago.

Julian Champagnie spoke with ClutchPoints prior to and following the Sixers’ highly anticipated Matchup with Ben Simmons and the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday to discuss his NBA journey so far. The interview was edited for length and clarity.

The following questions were asked following a pregame workout.

Sam DiGiovanni: So, your first year, most of it spent in the G league. What have you learned so far?

Julian Champagne: Getting some of the plays down pat. What we play down there is kind of how they want to play up here. So kind of getting all that down pat and getting one percent better every day.

What was the call like when they told you that you would be available for the next few games?

I was in shootaround. We were going to play [Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate], I think it was. We were getting ready and my Assistant Coach was like, ‘Yo, you’re not gonna be here. You’re going to Philly.’ I had no choice, no say. So, I mean, it was pretty cool but it was kind of off-guard.

Has your approach to anything changed at all being with the Sixers and practicing with them as opposed to the Blue Coats?

I wouldn’t say approach. I just think it’s a call to go even harder — to see how hard you can go, just keep pushing. Obviously, I feel like I work pretty hard — that’s kind of my motto. Even if my name isn’t called in the game, I’m giving my all in practice, giving my all before practice. I get there an hour and a half early, get my shots up. Continuing to go hard, keep going harder.

A few of the other guys have spoken on this before who are coming off the bench: As Doc Rivers figures out the Rotations more, is it difficult at all to get fully locked into a game if you aren’t sure if you’re gonna play or not?

I would say no. I feel like I try to be honest with myself, so I already know that being up here there’s a chance that I don’t play and that’s okay. I’m here for the guys, here for the team. I’m in practice, doing what the guys need. I wouldn’t say it’s hard to get locked in. It’s definitely an adjustment coming from college. I’m not used to that, but it’s the NBA so I’m kind of just here to learn from all the guys on the bench and watch the games and get better that way.

I know you haven’t gotten the chance to work with them yet in a regular-season game, but how excited are you to eventually get the chance to work with guys like Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey when they’re healthy?

It would be cool, honestly. [In] practice and training camp and stuff like that, you get a glimpse of what they can do and how they play. And it’s intriguing, honestly — a bunch of guys who are basically superstars and want to be a superstar who are so unselfish and they’re the teachers of the game. So, that’d be pretty cool.

What do you think is the thing you learned or developed over your few years at St. John’s that you’ve been using the most in your journey in the NBA?

The work ethic. Finding my time…and just working hard. That’s been my thing since freshman year of college. I figured if I stick with that, it’ll all come together.

The following questions were asked postgame. Julian Champagnie made his NBA debut in the final minutes of the Sixers’ 115-106 win over the Nets, logging one shot attempt.

I know it was only garbage time, but how did it feel to be out there for the first time?

It felt good. I didn’t know it was coming, but it felt good.

Anything you can build on or is it hard to do after just one minute of playing?

[With a smile] I got back cut. So, don’t get back cut. Nah, but I think what I take from Tonight is you never know what’s gonna happen, when it’s gonna come. You just don’t know, so continuing to stay ready and continuing to keep my mind locked in. There’s always an area of ​​improvement for anybody. I would say just keep doing that and when I get in there, just play confident.

You showed your confidence right away getting that shot up. Did that feel good, even though it didn’t fall?

It’s cool, I’m cool with that. Coach ran a play and he was like, ‘Get a shot up. Don’t be scared of the moment.’ So, that’s one thing — I’m not gonna be scared of the moment. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Kinda going with the flow, keep an even keel. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low.

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