Miami Heat: Is Norris Cole A Legitimate Starter At The Point?


One of the unsung heroes of the Miami Heat playoff run has been second-year point guard Norris Cole. Taking on a rather extensive role behind starting point guard Mario Chalmers, Cole has blossomed into a talented all-around floor general.

With free agency looming for Chalmers after next season (or even after this season as the Heat have a team option for 2013-14), Cole may very well be the franchise point guard in Miami.

But is he good enough to be a full-time starter in the NBA? His on-court play certainly seems to back up the statement.

Cole is an underrated Heat commodity. (Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule)

After handling just a sparse role as a rookie last season, Cole’s talent has led to a more even distribution of point-guard duties for the Heat. In the regular season, Cole averaged 19.9 minutes per game while Chalmers averaged 26.9. During Cole’s time on the court this season, he has excelled as an offensive threat who rarely turns the ball over.

He averaged just 1.3 turnovers per game during the regular season, which ranked fourth-best among qualifying point guards. So far in his 10 playoff games this year, his average has slightly increased to 1.7, which is still a respectable average. Granted, if he were a starter, he’d likely average more than 30 minutes per game and his turnover average would increase to more than two–his per-36-minute average was 2.4 turnovers this season.

In the regular season, Cole also displayed his innate scoring ability, particularly as a clutch 3-point shooter. He finished the season with a 3-point percentage of 35.7, a major improvement from 26.7 as a rookie.

In the playoffs so far he has made 64.7 percent of his 3-point attempts, proving his worth as more than just a facilitator in the star-studded Heat offense.

Moving forward, his under-appreciated skill set should lead to an increased role in Miami’s offense. He has already seen his playing time slightly spike in the playoffs, averaging 22.7 minutes per game. His 8.1 points per game is a considerable improvement over his 5.6  points per game during the regular season.

Could this be the turning point in Cole’s young career that we’re witnessing? It certainly seems like it. His confidence playing alongside stars such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade this season has shown that he is perfectly capable of assuming the starting point guard role in Miami.

His scoring prowess will increase with more playing time and experience, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t average at least 12 points per game on any team in a starting role while still maintaining his on-court leadership.

While his career is still young and he hasn’t received much fanfare just yet, Cole is certainly a legitimate starter at point guard.