HOUSTON – Since Villanova product and 20th overall pick Cam Whitmore got recalled to the Houston Rockets on December 22nd, the 19-year-old rookie has done everything he possibly can to earn minutes. And finally, it appears to have been worth the wait. While in the beginning of the season, Whitmore appeared lost and unable to play within the Rockets' rotation.

On defense, he didn't communicate well with his teammates and on offense. He often exhibited tunnel vision, believing that he himself was the only player who can score. Yes, Whitmore has talent. The underlying issue is execution; he just needed to find the confidence to utilize it at the right time. Over time, he grew more confident and sure of himself, especially during his time in the G-League. Dillon Brooks and Tari Eason's temporary losses have given Whitmore impactful opportunities as a versatile scorer and athletic finisher.

Finally putting it all together

Simple Graphic of Cam Whitmore looking to the left.

Whitmore has not disappointed thus far for the Rockets. In his last six games, he has averaged 11.5 points in just 14.2 minutes per game while shooting 55.3% from the field and 47.6% from beyond the arc, with a 67.7% true shooting percentage. Against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the formidable Milwaukee Bucks, Whitmore consistently rose to the challenge, scoring 12 points with impressive efficiency. This nearly matched his playing time for a third straight game. His rookie production has gotten NBA mainstream buzz on social media.

After defeating the Brooklyn Nets on January 3rd, Udoka had this to say about Whitmore's improvement:

“He looks sharp, in shape. Even in the blowout minutes that he's been playing, you can see everything start to slow down for him. Shot selection is great. He's making quick decisions. Defensively, everybody makes a few mistakes, but overall he's grasping the concepts better and his awareness is much better.”

Consider this projected stat line: In his 11 career games, Whitmore's stats per 36 minutes are 27.7 points and 7.5 rebounds. He has shown the ability to score in various ways whenever he is on the court.

Brooks and Eason's return may impact Whitmore's minutes

The question lingers: What will happen to Whitmore's playing time when Brooks and Eason return to action, averaging 31 and 22 minutes, respectively, compared to Whitmore's 14.2 over his last six games? Given that they primarily occupy the same position, it presents an uncertain situation for the young rookie. Will Ime Udoka contemplate removing Whitmore from the rotation upon their return? The Rockets could benefit from a player with a hot hand to keep winning games. Relegating him to the bench with limited minutes could hinder his momentum and development. Houston has a big decision to make regarding Whitmore's production.

As of now, there is no timetable for Brooks' return, and Tari Eason has missed three consecutive games. Eason's availability for Monday's game against the Miami Heat will be a game-time decision due to a sore leg. If he gets the green light, pairing Eason and Whitmore on the court could be advantageous. Miami lacks significant size, which could work to Houston's advantage. Additionally, with Caleb Martin doubtful and Jimmy Butler out for the Heat, the Rockets may find an opportunity to boost their scoring when shots aren't falling, courtesy of Cam Whitmore.