Shortly after Houston’s 2023 draft selections had their names called on stage by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore also heard kind words from Rockets general manager Rafael Stone, head coach Ime Udoka, and Patrick Fertitta.
Patrick Fertitta is the son of owner Tilman Fertitta, effectively serving as a liaison between basketball operations and ownership.
While Thompson and Whitmore were at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center as the physical draft location, Stone, Udoka, and Fertitta were in their draft war room at Houston’s Toyota Center.
Nonetheless, when it came time for the Rockets to make their decisions at No. 4 and No. 20 in the first-round order, that distance didn’t stop Houston’s executives from giving their new players a friendly heads up and a welcome message on behalf of the franchise.
The exchange with Whitmore was particularly notable, since he wasn’t expected to be on the board at No. 20 (he was actually believed to be in contention with Thompson to go No. 4). Stone admitted that Houston didn’t expect Whitmore to be on the board for their second first-round pick, but he said they’re ecstatic he was.
Udoka advised Whitmore to use the apparent draft snubs as motivation before reminding him that his goal was to be in Houston.
Courtesy of behind-the-scenes video from the Rockets, here’s what it looked and sounded like when those picks went down.
Houston’s draft call to Amen Thompson
Houston’s draft call to Cam Whitmore
Amen Thompson’s message to Rockets fans
Cam Whitmore’s message to Rockets fans
Amen Thompson’s draft announcement
Cam Whitmore’s draft announcement
Locked on Rockets draft reaction, analysis
Source: Yahoo Sports