Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Norris Cole and why the Miami Heat fans had it right last night...

I'm sure I wasn't the only person last night that tuned in to the Celtics/Heat game. I really wanted to see if the Heat would come out at a blistering pace again like they did on Christmas against the Mavericks. And secondly, I wanted to see how Norris Cole played. And Mr. Cole did not disappoint late in the game. He showed poise, the ability to hit open jumpers, the ability to drive and finish/dish, and as a result the crowd in Miami starting chanting "M-V-P!" when he shot his free throws, lol.

The chants were blatantly premature of course but they do underscore something much more important and something that it seems Miami fans have figured out early this season. That is, that they need a much better point guard than they had last year!

With all that said you might be wondering who the hell is Norris Cole?

Well, Norris Cole is probably going to be the reason the Heat win or lose the NBA championship this year. Barring any major injuries this year Norris Cole may end up being more important to Miami than LeBron or Dwayne Wade.

The reason being is that the Heat last year did not have a point guard that could do anything other than spot up for a jump shot. Sure Mario Chalmers had a couple drives to the basket here-and-there but between Chalmers, Mike Bibby, Carlos Arroyo, and Eddie House, please let me know which one of those guys could actually drive the lane well enough to: 1) create his own shot, or 2) dish out solid assists CONSISTENTLY. Go ahead, I'll wait.

All of those guys were pretty much stand-around, spot-up shooters. And most of them are streaky jump-shooters at that (Mr. House, I'm talking about you, mainly though). What that meant for other teams is that you could concentrate on figuring out how to stop LeBron and Dwayne Wade and live with jump shots from any of those guards mentioned and also Udonis Haslem (who has a pretty good set 15-17 foot jump shot by the way).

On top of not being able to create their own shots, none of these guys were defenders that could lock down a solid (let alone good) point guard from an opposing team during the playoffs. What that meant was that opposing point guards like Rondo and Derrick Rose and even Jason Kidd (to an extent) could all create their own shots if they needed to, or create shots for their teammates. Rose and Rondo are elite-level guards you won't stop them with just one guy on most nights but when they don't even have to think about their defender being able to stop them, that's a different story.

But this year it looks like Norris Cole might just change all that. Norris Cole was apparently a two-sport athlete in high school and a solid point guard in the Horizon League playing for Cleveland State. In his senior year he was named Horizon League Player of the Year AND Defensive Player of the Year and managed to drop 41 points on Youngstown State. You're gonna say, "The Horizon League, what's that?" But dropping 41 points as a division basketball player is not an easy task no matter what league or conference you're in. He was then drafted by Chicago, traded to the Timberwolves on draft day, and the Timberwolves eventually traded him to the Heat.

Cole appears to be a fairly decent jump-shooter spotting up and off the run. He also seems to have the ability to drive to the hoop and finish and/or dish depending on how the defense plays him. I use the words "seems" and "might" strategically here because there have only been two games so far to watch him play.  But he seems like he might have the potential to bring all the skills to the Heat at the point guard position offensively that none of those other guys could. And if he can bring it on the offensive end and manage to play solid defense (which will be a tall task against guys like Rondo and Rose), the Heat have got a REALLY good chance of winning the NBA championship.

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