While a lot of draft analysts are high on the tools of Amen and Ausar Thompson, Villanova wing Cam Whitmore is yet another special athlete in this class. Whitmore also happens to be about a year and a half younger than the Thompson twins, and he proved himself against high-level college competition — and not just the questionable Overtime Elite talent pool, which skews very young. With that in mind, Whitmore feels like he is being a bit overlooked heading into the 2023 NBA Draft.
It should be noted that nobody is expecting Whitmore to slide very far. Most mock drafts have him going sixth, seventh or eighth, which is right behind the Thompson twins. However, it shouldn’t surprise anybody if Whitmore ends up outperforming both in the NBA. And it also wouldn’t be all that shocking if a team fell in love with him in the process, opting to select him a bit earlier than expected.
Whitmore’s NBA-ready body and explosive leaping ability, combined with nice agility for a player his size, makes him one of the more intriguing upside swings of this draft. He largely rode those traits to a freshman year in which he averaged 12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game — and did so on a team with a poor supporting cast. Whitmore measured at roughly 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan at the combine, and he also had a 41-inch vertical leap. Physically, he’s ready to enter the NBA and bang with some of the strongest wings in the league. Now, it’s just about refining his skill set in order to maximize his potential.
Even as a rookie, Whitmore should be dangerous when attacking the basket. He can take off from anywhere and finish with either hand, whether he’s laying it in or slamming it home with authority. He had some serious highlight-reel dunks in his lone season with the Wildcats, and he’s going to pop as an athlete at the next level. For the most part, he’s doing his damage as a straight-line driver right now, but he did flash a bit more than that in college. So, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s creating for himself at some point. But Whitmore can be remarkable if he’s playing with other players that can bend a defense. He’s also just going to be a terror in transition, where the best thing opponents can do is probably just move out of his way. There’s also serious potential for Whitmore as a pick-and-roll finisher, even if he’s more of a wing than a big.
Whitmore is also a very smart off-ball player, which comes with the territory when playing at a school like Villanova. Jay Wright might not be there anymore, but the program has always produced smart basketball players and current head coach Kyle Neptune learned everything he knows from the two-time NCAA champion. Within the Wildcats system, Whitmore proved to have great feel as a cutter in his limited time in college, and that’ll go a long way in the NBA. Also, as he improves as a shooter, Whitmore’s cutting will be even more valuable, as he’ll sneak by his defenders if they play up on him.
Speaking of the jumper, the reason to like Whitmore a little more than the Thompson twins is that he’s further along as a shooter, with better mechanics than both. Whitmore shot 34.3% from the outside in his lone season at Villanova, and it isn’t hard to see him being something like a 35.0% shooter in the NBA down the road. And if he ever reaches that mark, the team that drafts him will be very pleased. Whitmore already does so many things at a high level offensively and rounding out his game with a reliable jumper is the missing piece of the puzzle. Not many guys in the league can slash and finish at the rim like Whitmore, while also being serviceable shooters. Whitmore is also a solid passer, leaving very little to nitpick on this side of the floor.
Defensively, Whitmore isn’t as good as the Thompson twins right now, but there’s no denying he has All-Defense upside. With his strength, speed and athleticism, Whitmore should be able to comfortably guard four positions. He’s already a very good off-ball defender, as evidenced by his ability to get in the lanes and steal the basketball. He’s also a good weakside shot blocker, as well as a guy that knows the importance of rebounding the basketball. The only question is whether Whitmore will develop into a player that can be a lockdown option on the perimeter. A lot of that will depend on where he ends up in the draft. However, it’s very hard to bet against a player with his natural talent on the defensive end.
In the current NBA landscape, teams can never have enough wings. So, it isn’t surprising that scouts and analysts are enamored with the Thompson twins. But teams should be just as high on Whitmore, who is arguably more polished than both and is a bit younger. Amen is an all-world athlete and that’s hard to ignore, but Whitmore is a 99th percentile athlete himself. And he leveraged it to perfection on the court in his lone season in college, despite not having much spacing around him. In the NBA, he should look a heck of a lot better.
It really feels like Whitmore can achieve anything at the next level, but he also has a high floor because of how nicely his game translates to the pros. You can’t ask for much more than that if you don’t land one of the top guys in this class.