Cam Whitmore wins MVP as summer Rockets lose finale versus Cavaliers

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Less than a month ago, the Houston Rockets considered drafting Villanova forward Cam Whitmore with their No. 4 overall pick before having the improbable good fortune of seeing him drop to their second selection at No. 20 in the NBA’s 2023 first-round order.

For the Rockets, it was great luck to be able to pair Whitmore — viewed by many as a top-five talent in the draft class — with fellow rookie Amen Thompson, who is also in that tier. As for Whitmore, while the 19-year-old was happy to land in Houston, he was simultaneously annoyed by the unexpected draft-night slide while vowing to play with a “chip on his shoulder,” as a result.

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At least through the first month, it’s mission mostly accomplished.

Whitmore, who was named by the NBA as its summer-league MVP, had 14 points in 28 minutes during Monday’s championship game versus Cleveland. However, it wasn’t enough for Houston (5-1) to win in a matchup (99-78, box score) versus the unbeaten Cavaliers (6-0).

Cleveland was led by young center Isaiah Mobley, who had 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots on 12-of-20 shooting (60.0% FG).

On the whole, the loss certainly doesn’t offset two weeks of strong play. Most notably, Whitmore has put up strong numbers despite drawing increasingly more attention from opposing defenses.

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Thompson (left ankle sprain) was shut down after Houston’s July 7 opener in Las Vegas, while second-year forwards Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason (rest) had their stints end two days later. Smith, for his part, was brilliant enough to earn an All-Summer League Second Team selection despite only playing in those two games.

Yet, even after losing three big names, Whitmore and two-way players Trevor Hudgins and Darius Days made it to where Houston barely missed a beat on its way to a championship-game berth. Summer-league head coach Ben Sullivan, who will be Ime Udoka’s top assistant for the regular season, played a key role, as well.

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Read on for highlights, postgame interviews with players and coaches, and reaction by fans and media members to Monday’s summer MVP announcement and the ensuing championship game.

Reaction as Rockets win NBA’s summer title, Cam Whitmore named MVP

 

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire



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