Cam Whitmore’s upside promises must-watch basketball for OKC Thunder

Cam Whitmore #22 of the Villanova Wildcats in (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Cam Whitmore #22 of the Villanova Wildcats in (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Cam Whitmore is a six-foot-seven wing with immense upside and athleticism that has been already on par with some of the most athletic players in the NBA today. A Villanova product, Whitmore has proven his mere presence on the floor impacts the game on both ends as one of the best prospects in theNBA Draft.

Cam Whitmore averaged 12 points, five rebounds, and nearly an assist per game in his lone year with the Wildcats. His explosiveness, predicated on his elite athleticism, stood out from him during his collegiate days, making him a prospect that is hard to pass up, especially for a team looking for someone to inject energy on the floor.

Cam Whitmore features high upside in the 2023 NBA Draft.

This athleticism is strapped on a bulky body and a 230-pound frame. But, having the fiery repertoire and tank, It’s even more astounding to realize that he will only turn 19 years old come the Summer League – an age range that fits the timeline of the OKC Thunder.

He is exceptional in exploding through the paint, often overwhelming opposing players with his athletic gifts. In addition, he is well off and potent in using any of his feet on penetrations to the basket. Through this, Cam Whitmore has proved that he is at ease in whichever directions defenses try to funnel him into.

This, combined with a solid bag of finishes, has allowed Whitmore to convert nearly 65 percent of his shots at the rim, according to Synergy. Unfortunately, he seemed to need help finishing through traffic on the eye test. Still, the promise of his superb athleticism is a great reason to believe in his upside in that facet.

As much as he is a fiery on-ball driver, Whitemore’s off-ball plays — mostly aggressive displays of equally impressive reads and reactions — justify his fit with the Thunder system.

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He thrived on punishing napping defenders through 45 cuts and diving on space off paint touches from his teammates. Again, this is quite similar to what we saw from the Thunder this season — a heavy those of paint touches and dribble drives that resulted in easy cuts and spot-up looks.

Whitmore can fit on the Thunder’s elbow actions — where a hub triggers a pass on the elbow of the floor through off-ball efforts — by utilizing his wits and innate strength and motor to bully opposing teams who turn back on him defensively.

In terms of shotmaking, Whitmore was still there. His release looked a little slow, but enough to make defenses that go under on screens pay. However, that should be room for improvement for him once he gets to the NBA floor. Still, that on-ball upside is something to be optimistic about.

Through the lens of the numbers, Whitmore shot 34 percent on threes in about four attempts per game. At the same time, his free-throw tally — a historically good indicator of perimeter shooting — tells of a 70 percent return on mere two attempts per contest.

In all his games with Villanova, Cam Whitmore has been a reasonably respectable jump shooter, which should also translate to the NBA, as his shooting mechanics show good energy transfer and consistent form.

His defense shows incredible activity, albeit in an inconsistent manner. Be that as it may, his physical gifts automatically make him a high-upside defensive player who should have an excellent gauge of his versatility, lateral quickness, and overall defensive awareness.

With his size, he can defend players from positions 1 to 4 and should also be swiftly inserted into the Thunder’s scheme of switching defenses that binge on scrambles and creating chaos.

Whitmore also flaunts a six-foot-11 wingspan — a weapon he has used to clog passing lanes and snag deflections. He has normed a solid 1.4 steals per game on a 3.2 steals percentage — the percentage of estimated opponent possessions that end with the player stealing while the player is on the court.

Although he is far from a playmaking savant, his decision-making raises some eyebrows. Whitmore often gets trapped or forced shots over overwhelming defenses. This, in time, can be reduced through excellent coaching, which OKC has in Mark Daigneault.

Whitmore’s game still has a good amount of fat to trim, metaphorically, entering the NBA. There are still some reasonable concerns about his game — defensive sluggishness, decision-making among others — but what he brings to an OKC table full of dishes that can potentially offset this is salivating.

Should the Thunder get lucky and Cam Whitmore fall to them in the middle or late lottery, OKC would have a tremendous vehement on their hands.

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