As great as Cam Whitmore’s NBA 2K24 Summer League was, he sure was hoping for a better ending.
Through six summer league games, Whitmore averaged 19.3 points (on 44.7 percent shooting from the field), 5.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.5 steals, earning Summer League MVP honors and leading the Houston Rockets to the finals.
The Rockets’ 99-78 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, though, was far from ideal. Whitmore himself had arguably his worst game in the tournament. His 14 points came on 17 shot attempts, while he also accounted for three of Houston’s 13 turnovers.
It will definitely leave a bad taste in Whitmore’s mouth, but now that summer league is done, he can focus on his bigger goals, which include silencing the doubters.
Whitmore was selected by the Rockets with the 20th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft after falling out of the lottery largely due to his injury history. A broken tibia and a fractured thumb (that forced him to miss seven games) were among the medical concerns that scared some NBA teams, but beyond that, the former Villanova Wildcat was viewed as a bonafide talent.
In a way, things worked out for Whitmore, who eventually became the primary option on Houston’s summer league squad following Amen Thompson’s ankle injury. Not only was he able to showcase the talent that made him a potential lottery pick, but his 31.0 minutes per game were the fourth-highest among those who played at least five games in the NBA 2K24 Summer League.
Apart from the summer league title (and some bragging rights), there’s really not much to play for and as such, players can focus on their individual development. It’s safe to say that Whitmore maximized his summer league stint as he not only got to prove the naysayers wrong, but he also put himself in a better position entering training camp with the Rockets.
It’s highly unlikely that Whitmore will average close to 20 points per game in his rookie year, but it’ll be more important to see how he carries over the skills he utilized to get his points. The logjam within Houston given the presence of the likes of Thompson, Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Jae’Sean Tate, Dillon Brooks, Tari Eason, Aaron Holiday, and Jeff Green means that while the pressure may be low, there may not be enough reps to go around at least for this upcoming season.
The expectations at this point in Whitmore’s career will be to develop the habits necessary to become a consistent contributor in the NBA. Young players in today’s NBA are athletic and if they can blend this with the right intangibles and the requisite skills, they can be nightmares to opposing defenses early on.
While it may not be an issue at the moment, Whitemore must already manage himself health-wise as early as now. The NBA is a loooong season, especially for players who come from leagues with less than half of the NBA’s 82-game schedule. So, the MVP of the 2022 FIBA U-18 Americas Championship must pace himself both in terms of his personal development and his body because the proverbial rookie wall can come at unprepared players fast. Fortunately for Whitmore, who just turned 19 almost two weeks ago, time is on his side and the Rockets are a young squad.
Working in Whitmore’s favor is that he came from an established wing factory in Villanova, where Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo, Jalen Brunson, and Saddiq Bey are just some of the recent Wildcats that have firmly entrenched themselves in the NBA. The foundation has been laid and it’s up to him to maximize it in order to realize his potential.
Cam Whitmore’s NBA2K24 Summer League ended on a sour note, but this is just the beginning for him. There may come a time when Whitmore’s summer league campaign may be a footnote in his career, but it laid the groundwork towards making the teams that passed on him on draft night look back with regret.