Houston Rockets rookie Cam Whitmore was never expected to play a large role for the franchise this season, as he was viewed as a developmental prospect. Whitmore's slide to the 20th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft was a bit of a head scratcher, although many attributed it to health concerns and/or a laissez-faire demeanor and/or cavalier attitude.
Whitmore was viewed as purely a scorer in college and showed as much in the Summer League. This made it hard to justify giving him minutes in the NBA.
Rockets coach Ime Udoka sent Whitmore to the G-League to allow him to develop his game, as he oftentimes became a ball-stopper.
With the Rio Grande Vipers, Whitmore progressed as a passer and/or playmaker, while also cutting down on his decision-making time. Whitmore has averaged 26.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 47.5 percent from the field, and 38.9 percent from deep this season in the G-League, leaving many wondering why he hasn't been added to the Rockets' rotation.
Outside of the occasional minutes at the end of the game and/or when the game was already decided, Whitmore hadn't really got much opportunities, up until last week's game against the Phoenix Suns, in which he entered the game in the first quarter.
In that game, Whitmore had 12 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from deep, along with 76.1 true shooting percentage (which is astronomical) in 18 minutes of action. In Wednesday night's 112-101 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Whitmore received first quarter minutes yet again, as he checked in at the 2:30 mark in the opening period.
Whitmore ultimately had 11 points, two rebounds, and two steals, while shooting 4-of-7 from the field, 3-of-5 from distance, and 78.6 percent true shooting. After the game, Udoka gave his thoughts on the rookie's play.
Udoka's comments could indicate an increased role for Rockets rookie.
"All of these young guys are coming in and have alot to learn initially but you can see the growth and progress over these months. Everybody has a different path where they might not be ready from day one but with the right mindset, work ethic, and film work, you can see the growth already in a few months.
It's a long season, we're 30 games in and the message to guys is to continue to grow and be patient. Those things don't always happen on day one.
Two months in, he's worked at it. You've seen the growth and saw he can apply it to the game. Those are good things."
Rockets floor general Fred VanVleet also shared his thoughts in Whitmore, while praising the Rockets' developmental plan for the Villanova product.
"He looked great. I've loved the way that we've handled those guys' development. Spending some time in the G-League learning, taking the slow route is going to be huge for their career. With that said, you love to see them take advantage when they do get the minutes. Because it grows. The more he plays, the better he plays."
If Whitmore continues to play as well as he has- 7.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 54.3 percent from the floor, 42.9 percent from deep, and 63.3 true shooting percentage- he may be done playing with the Vipers.