To say a rookie taken at the bottom of the first round could be the key to an NBA championship is a pretty audacious statement. But if the Miami Heat’s early season dominance is an guide, Norris Cole could be backing up those words.
Coming out of Cleveland State University, Cole slid from a late lottery projection to the 28th pick where the Chicago Bulls snared him, but dealt him to the Timberwolves almost straight away. Just as Cole no doubt began having nightmares about battling Minnesota’s point-guard-infested roster for a minute, he was whisked away to the sunny beaches of Miami, Florida.
While fans were quick to hype up their latest prospect, many declared the rookie would struggle to get off the pine under Erik Spoelstra in Miami’s high pressure atmosphere of elite play. But following an impressive showing at the Heat’s pre-season scrimmage, Cole was given spurts from the first game to show off his prowess.
He started off his NBA career with a seven-point showing against Dallas, but really announced himself with a 14-point last quarter as he led the Heat to a tough win against the veteran Celtics.
The second gamer looked like a seasoned veteran as he glided through Boston’s notoriously stingy defence and even managed to dish four assists. Cole continued showing form into 2012, posting a near double-double after going off for 16 points and nine assists at home against Charlotte.
Though obviously not solely due to Cole’s efforts, the Heat have started the season impressively, with an Eastern Conference best 8-2 at time of writing. In an average of 23 minutes per game, Norris Cole has contributed a steady average of around 10 points, 4 assists and two rebounds per game.
They’re not numbers that scream ‘Rookie of the Year’, but they sure are making a difference. It gives the defence another threat to consider while they try to keep LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in check. It gives the home court a spark, or can deflate a rowdy away crowd when Cole makes an acrobatic cut to the hoop and burns their point guard. It gives the Miami bench some much needed motivation and flair. All in all, Norris Cole just brings a breath of fresh air to the Heat’s circulatory system.
While it’s far too early to call a title favourite, we know the Heat are going to be up there, and nothing but a title is acceptable to them. If the Heat do triumph at the season’s end, remember Norris Cole and his contributions when the media champions The Big Three But maybe you don’t need me to tell you. Norris Cole seems to do a pretty good job at standing out among a sky of stars.