Norris Cole was selected with the 28th pick in the 2011 draft by the Chicago Bulls out of Cleveland State, but in a series of draft night deals, his rights were subsequently traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who then dealt him to the Miami Heat.
In college, his numbers improved over the course of his career, which culminated in a senior year that saw him average 21.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
After averaging 6.8 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 39 percent shooting in his rookie season, where he was also nominated to the Rising Stars game, Cole was seemingly set to take over as Miami’s next point guard.
However, the first half of his sophomore season saw Cole perform somewhat disappointingly, with dips in production even though he was playing slightly more minutes. After the All-Star break, Cole came back a different player and displayed the potential that many in Miami had hoped to see from him from the beginning of the season. While the starting spot belonged to Mario Chalmers, many believed the opportunity was there for Cole to replace the much-maligned “younger brother” of the Big Three.
The 6’2″ point guard shot 48 percent from deep after the All-Star break and continued the hot hand into the playoffs where he averaged a simply staggering 53 percent from beyond the arc.
As well as improving his jump shot, Cole displayed a better sense of game awareness, slowing down his play when he would be previously seen frantically driving and getting blocked or turning the ball over. This progress should continue over the offseason.
The strong part of Cole’s game has always been defence and this is where the Cleveland State product really shows his value and where he holds a distinct advantage over Chalmers. While both guards are effective off-ball defenders, Cole’s on-ball defence is tenacious and clearly much better than that of Chalmers, whom often gets beaten by opposing guards to the point where he is exploited by athletic freaks like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose.
It seems that Cole is now ready to take over the starting spot or is very close to it and it nearly seems only a matter of time until the transition is made. To further the case for Cole, it seems he has a more relaxed relationship with the Big Three. This helps subtly and behind the scenes because the Big Three are the vital cog to the Heat machine and keeping them happy should be a priority.
Also Chalmers has been berated by Wade, Bosh and James countless times since 2010 and seems to get frustrated with the constant abuse. This kind of tension can disrupt chemistry and although that seems to be a highlight of the Miami Heat, this sort of niggling issue can potentially became an issue down the track.
With advantages in athleticism, defense and popularity and an improving offensive game, Norris Cole seems set for a solid season and one that could potentially see him starting come the playoffs. This could be a stepping stone for Cole in his development that may end up helping Miami stay together and keep the title window open for just that little bit longer.