In the coming months of the 2011 NBA Draft, experts throughout the nation ranked who they thought were the best players coming out of their respective schools. Although team’s front offices don’t base their draft boards off of what the experts say, they make sure they know everything there is to know about a player before they draft him. Whether it’s during the pre-draft workouts or pre-draft interviews, players draft stock will either rise or fall. You could easily argue that throughout this entire pre-draft process, no one’s draft stock rose more than Norris Cole’s.
Coming out of Cleveland State, a small university basketball wise out of the Horizon League, Norris Cole was tremendously overlooked. After looking at a multitude of different mock drafts for the 2011 NBA Draft, many people didn’t have Norris Cole being selected until the second round. That wasn’t the case. Just as the first round was coming to a close, the Chicago Bulls decided to pull the trigger and select Cole with the 28th overall pick. Cole’s tenure as a Bull was short lived after the team traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Much like his run with the Bulls, Cole wasn’t apart of Minnesota’s organization for long. Shortly after he was traded to Minnesota, the Timberwolves traded his rights to the Miami Heat. Surprisingly, Cole’s night of moving was finally over, as the Heat decided to keep his rights, due to the tremendously large hole at the point guard position.
It didn’t take long for Norris to become a fan favorite. His cool hairstyle and gutsy play quickly elevated his popularity. His first season in the NBA was fantastic. Although he didn’t play a huge role on the team and didn’t drop a bunch of points on a nightly basis; he did have the opportunity to play with three superstars, while winning the NBA Championship. If you were to ask me, that’s a pretty good rookie season.
This season has definitely been different. Cole has appeared in 80 games during the regular season, as opposed to the 65 that he played in during his rookie campaign. Not only was his role drastically increased during the regular season, Cole has seen an enormous amount of playing time in this year’s postseason. In his rookie season, Cole averaged 8.9 minutes per game in the postseason, whereas in this year’s playoffs he is averaging 21 minutes per game. If you round up, Cole is currently averaging 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. What is impressive to me is the fact that Cole is hitting over 50 percent of the shots that he is taking. Not only has Cole increased his offensive efficiency, but his team defense has also dramatically improved.
With All-Star’s Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh having their own fair share of problems, the Heat desperately needed someone to be able to come off the bench and produce at a high level for them and so far, Norris Cole has been that guy.
Even with all of that being said, it is now time for the main event. For any of you who have seen Moneyball, you might be familiar with the quote, “If you lose the last game of the season, nobody gives a sh*t.” I would like to say that that should be the motto for the Heat coming into this final series against the San Antonio Spurs; however, if the Heat do end up losing this series, people would care just as much. If the Heat lose this series, they could potentially end up with the label of the team that could have won a lot more championships then they did.
That’s why the Heat’s bench has to come and play this series. Both of these teams have players that can score from beyond the ark. I personally believe that whichever team performs better from the three point line will hold a tremendous edge in the series. In my opinion, next to Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Norris Cole has to be the best player off of this experienced Heat bench. When it comes to scoring and impact off the bench, Norris Cole is the best bench player on the Miami Heat. To be fair, Ray Allen and Shane Battier have been struggling during the past few weeks; however, Norris has been able to make the most of his opportunities to become one of the Heat’s best bench players.
When it comes to this series with the Spurs, I believe that Norris Cole has the potential to be the x-factor for the Miami Heat. Coming off of the bench, Cole has just as much as a big impact as anyone else. His all-around ability to score and playing hard defense is just as good as anyone else’s off the Heat’s bench. This series should be a good one for Norris. For him, the match-ups are so-so; however, as of late, Cole has been nothing short of spectacular for the Heat. If Norris could continue to play at the level he has been playing at, the Miami Heat will have a pretty damn good backcourt for the next few years. Maybe the Heat will even give him the opportunity to start next season? Will Cole’s production produce a point guard competition next season? Who knows what will happen, the only thing that we know is that Norris Cole will come to play and will continue to produce at a high level for what should be a fantastic finals series!
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