The San Antonio Spurs are only two weeks away from learning their fate in the 2023 NBA Draft, and we are kicking off Lucky Lotería Month on Air Alamo to help fans get familiar with the top prospects in this class. While we all want to see Victor Wembanyama in Silver and Black, there is a real possibility the French phenom lands elsewhere.
Although the odds are in their favor, San Antonio could slide in the lottery. As devastating as that would be for the Spurs faithful, the incoming group of players is more talented than in recent years, and the front office could secure a potential star if they select Cam Whitmore. So what does the 18-year-old freshman bring to the table as a prospect?
Cam Whitmore is one of the best athletes in this draft class, blending his explosive leaping ability, exceptional first step, and phenomenal strength to get into the paint on command. He rises off one or two feet quickly and has the body control to perform acrobatic finishes in traffic, making 64.5% of his shots at the rim during his one-and-done season at Villanova.
The 18-year-old is a powerful straight-line slasher who embraces contact and sheds smaller defenders with his enormous frame. Despite his right-hand dominance, Whitmore prefers driving left when attacking the basket. And for all his physicality, Whitmore owned a lower free throw rate (25.1%) than you might expect for a player that made his living near the hoop.
Although he earned a reputation as a human bowling ball, the freshman forward displayed promising signs of finesse, changing gears and using eurosteps to keep defenders guessing. He also pulled out step-throughs, pump fakes, spins, and secondary bumps to create enough space to get off a shot after prematurely killing his dribble.
Whitmore has a relatively advanced handle for someone his size, but he could be sloppy when trying to string together combination moves. That comfortability with the ball in his hands can be an asset at the next level if he can clean things up and develop an in-between game, an area of his repertoire that is practically non-existent at this stage.
Pull-up shooting is one of the keys to unlocking his upside as a go-to scorer. While he only drained 29.7% of his self-created threes, his step-backs and dribble jumpers looked fluid and confident. His release is a little slow, but because defenders have to respect his driving prowess, a simple jab step can generate the daylight he needs to fire away.
There are some fair questions about whether he can reach his All-Star ceiling that stems from his slower processing and poor decision-making in college. The teenage forward took too long to survey the court, missed wide-open teammates, settled for contested shots, overdribbled on the perimeter, and was prone to getting tunnel vision once he got downhill.
One of the side effects of his one-track-mindedness was that it made him predictable, allowing help defenders to poke the ball free on digs or block his layups from behind when he got stranded. Whitmore recorded just 19 assists in 719 minutes, and even when he looked to dish the ball, he made inaccurate deliveries on the move and telegraphed passes with his eyes.
He had occasional high-end flashes as a playmaker, and his future as a primary option in the NBA for a contending team hinges on him becoming someone who can leverage his gravity and make the correct read once he draws multiple men. Even if that never comes to fruition, Cam has a bright future as a productive off-ball player.
The 6-foot-7 wing is dangerous on second-side actions, beating reckless closeouts with quick rips. Whitmore can punish mismatches when guards switch onto him, dragging them to the tin for effortless finishes. He is also an incredible positional rebounder with strong hands who can high-point the ball in a crowd and convert second-chance opportunities.
Whitmore ranked in the 94th percentile as a cutter, connected on 40% of his catch-and-shoot threes, and thrived in transition, attributes that give him a safe floor regardless of where he lands in the league. He is virtually impossible to stop once he gets a head full of steam, and his catch radius makes him a lob target on the break and in a half-court offense setting.
If Cam fleshes out his on-ball creation, the team that drafts him could be looking at a versatile scorer who can get buckets with or without the rock in his hands. His potential is enticing, and there is a lot to like about what his defense could provide the Spurs as they try to reestablish themselves as a powerhouse on the opposite end of the floor.