The NBA Draft is a gamble for both teams and players. As much as there are player busts near the top of draft classes, there are also surprisingly great finds in the middle of the draft. The Miami Heat were able to land one of those finds when they traded up in 2011 to pick Norris Cole. After a more up than down rookie season, here is what to expect from the young pint guard.
Last Season: Cole came to Miami as an unusual draft prospect by today’s standards. He was a four year senior coming out of college along with being a first round pick for the Heat. He entered training camp and impressed Miami coaches and that opened a door to the rotation. Cole didn’t waste the opportunity as he showed Heat fans that he was ready for the spotlight in the team’s home opener against the Boston Celtics. He scored 20 points in that game which was pivotal to the Heat winning. Cole continued to play well up to the All Star break which earned him a late invitation to the Rising Stars Challenge. Unfortunately for Cole, he hit a wall late into the season and was removed from the rotation. This continued somewhat in the playoffs up until the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder where he showed the steady and fearless play that was present during the early parts of the season.
Cole finished his rookie season averaging 6.8 points, 2 assists, and 1.4 rebounds per game.
This Season: Cole comes into season already with two advantages he didn’t have last season. Those advantages are Summer League play and a full training camp. He also doesn’t have to worry much about competition as Miami didn’t sign any other point guards in the off season. This also puts more responsibility in his plate as he no longer has the cover of being a rookie when it comes to both a learning curve and mistakes.
Cole, being that he is the only other pure point guard on the Heat, also has a shot at the starting lineup. That mainly depends on how well expected starter Mario Chalmers plays.
Should Cole show progression in training camp, he will likely earn more minutes. That will lead to an overall rise in his averages.
Overall Prediction: Cole is not only coming into the season as a veteran, but as a defending champion. He will be highlighted in scouting reports of opposing teams. His play will determine what is said on those reports. He will improve thanks to a structured off season and better knowledge of Miami’s system. He will also face frustrations of an expected ‘sophomore slump’ along with the bulls-eye that comes with defending the title.
Luckily as he has shown both in college and the pros, Cole is not afraid of the challenge.