HOUSTON – The Houston Rockets are facing challenges with their bench this season, averaging just 27.7 points. Head Coach Ime Udoka heavily relies on the starting rotation more than any other NBA team. This has resulted in player fatigue and increased injury risks. Fred VanVleet's situation exemplifies this issue. After playing over 40 minutes in the last eight games, he missed a crucial game against the Denver Nuggets due to a thumb injury. There are several young Rockets who need to get more run in order to alleviate this situation, starting with rookie Cam Whitmore.

Losing Fred VanVleet was huge

Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors

Although Houston played well offensively, thanks to Jalen Green's efficient 26-point outburst, they were completely outmatched on defense. Losing VanVleet left a gaping hole at the point and it was difficult to replace his expertise in facilitating and perimeter defense. Seeing Fred off the floor felt like witnessing a reprise of the Stephen Silas era. Although it's probably day-to-day, the Rockets have some questions to answer regarding their bench. Based on Fred's usage, it seems that Udoka doesn't have much confidence in his second unit when VanVleet is on the bench.

Why Cam Whitmore deserves more playing time

During the Rockets blowout, many fans urged Udoka to insert rookie Cam Whitmore on the floor. And why would that be a good thing? Because he can score on his own. It's what Houston desperately needs, and their fans know it. The case surrounding the support for Whitmore to receive minutes has been an ongoing trend all season.

Did Udoka insert Cam in with two of the Rockets players out? Not exactly. Instead, Reggie Bullock and Jock Landale saw minutes, both of whom had not played in several games before. To Bullock's credit, he did score the basketball well and was key to the Rockets getting back into the game, knocking down two threes in twelve minutes.

Landale continues to cement himself as the Rockets fans' punching bag. His production has been next to nothing in a Rockets uniform.

Udoka eventually played Whitmore, but only in the game's final minutes with the Rockets trailing by 16 points. Nevertheless, Whitmore did the best case auditioning for the role of increased minutes, going 3-of-4 from the field and 1-of-2 from three, tallying eight points and two rebounds.

Maybe Rockets fans have a point. Whitmore has been exceptional in the G-League. In six games, Cam is averaging 24.3 points with 48.7% from the field and 43.1% from three. He's also improved his playmaking, especially on the fast break.

This rapid improvement dishing assists was hardly part of his game at Villanova. Along with scoring, Whitmore can increase his versatility more if he is capable of consistently involving his teammates at the NBA level.

Rockets need more bench scoring

It's still a mystery why Cam Whitmore still hasn't been considered in the rotation, given his talent. His size, ability to create his own shot, and score in bunches would be a great addition to the Rockets' second unit. Whitmore's G-League performance, particularly his improved playmaking and fast-break execution, shows his potential to boost the Rockets' lack of bench scoring.

Given the ugly loss in Denver, defense is still the Rockets' strong suit, especially coming from their bench. However, aside from the starting lineup, it's tough to figure out who on the bench is capable of scoring on their own. Losing Kevin Porter Jr. is looking more and more of a problem for the Rockets. It's why adding a quality bench scorer should be one of the Rockets' trade assignments. In the meantime, increasing Whitmore's playtime could address their current shortcomings.