The 2023 NBA Draft is loaded with talent and has been a significant talking point heading into the off-season period. Landing a top-ten selection this year is vital for teams that want to build a contender down the line. Cam Whitmore left high school as one of the best prospects entering college basketball. Despite the retirement of Head Coach Jay Wright, the forward decided to stick will Villanova for his sole season of college basketball. An injury derailed the beginning of his season, but he recovered well to close out the season. While the Wildcats had an overall down season, Whitmore showed enough to maintain his top-ten status in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Cam Whitmore is an incredibly strong athlete that knows exactly how to use his athletic ability and strength. Overall he uses his athleticism best when he drives in hard to the basket. The Villanova wing is one of the more athletic players in the entire 2023 NBA Draft. Like most top athletes coming into the NBA, he will need to work on his control but has already shown some positive signs of being able to learn that control. His strength leads to him making explosive plays around the rim. Whitmore will be on the positive end of plenty of highlight reel dunks and posters. While the rest of his offensive game needs some polish, his slashing ability is already NBA-ready thanks to his athleticism and strength. An NBA team that could use more athleticism will gladly use their draft spot on the Villanova forward.
To make it in the NBA, forwards need to have the size to keep up with the competition. Whitmore is already built like the prototypical NBA forward. The Villanova forward is listed at 6’7″ making him an ideal height to play small forward in a traditional lineup and perhaps power forward in a smaller lineup. While plenty of forwards already have the height entering the NBA, few already have a solid frame to build on. Whitmore already has a good frame to further build on when he enters an NBA training program. He is currently listed at just over 230 pounds with plenty of room to add muscle that can contribute to his strength. His wingspan has not been officially measured yet. It is not considered to be an amazing wingspan, but certainly serviceable considering his other intangible. Sometimes the look of a player can mean the difference between four or five draft spots. Whitmore already looks like an NBA player and that will get him some extra attention leading up to the draft.
While talking about Whitmore’s more intangible attributes, it can be easy to overlook perhaps his best attribute on the court. His ability to play defense on and off the ball makes him an interesting prospect heading into the NBA Draft. He’s also a capable rebounder and averaged 4.5 defensive rebounds per game while with Villanova. The freshman forward also averaged 1.4 steals per game while with the team in his solo season of college basketball. He has the ability to pick the pocket but thrives getting his hands into the passing lanes. His instincts on the defensive end of the court are some of the best that the 2023 NBA Draft has to offer. With Whitmore, it’s all about adding some polish to his game as he grows into a more complete basketball player.
The overall concern about Cam Whitmore is that he is an incredibly raw prospect that relies a bit too much on his athleticism and size. Sometimes on offense, he struggles to create a shot and looks somewhat reckless when driving into the paint. When being guarded by a good defender or when getting double-teamed he has a tendency to dribble himself into trouble. Overall the Villanova forward needs some good coaching and some fine-tuning on the court. Being drafted to the right situation will be vital for the athletic forward. While he has the instinct on the defensive end of the court, he will need to grow into the talent. Two significant issues on the box score that jump out as a problem are his 1.6 turnovers per game and his free throw percentage of just 70.3 percent. Whitmore shows plenty of promise but needs plenty of polish and the right coaching staff once he is drafted.
NBA Comparison: Jaylen Brown
Heading into the NBA Jaylen Brown was a promising player with athletic ability, size, and defensive instinct. There were also some questions about his scoring ability and he was overall a raw prospect. Brown benefitted from being drafted by a Celtics team that had the time and patience to work on his development. Whitmore could grow into that type of player if given the right environment to grow as an NBA player. While neither player will ever likely be “the guy” on a team fitting in as the second-best player on a contender is still a top spot in the league. Raw and athletic forwards are not a new thing in the NBA and players like that wash out every season. It is about finding the right fit and development. Whitmore has the tools to be a top NBA player and it’s just about putting it all together when he gets to the league.