At this point, you should know that you can’t take what Pat Riley says a week out from the draft as Gospel. Riley said, “We will pick at #31″ (well, he didn’t say for “who”). He also said that they would not buy into the 1st round. (Well, he traded in..) It seems that Norris Cole (Cleveland State) was very high on their board because they sure plucked him right before he was sure to be taken.
In taking him with a 1st round pick, part of his salary will now be guaranteed, which almost assures him of a roster spot for the 2011-2012 season. They must really like the 4-year senior from Cleveland State. The rumors and speculation that OKC had made a guarantee to Reggie Jackson (Boston College) proved to be true. So any hope of a precipitous drop for Jackson was fool’s gold. Nolan Smith (Duke) being taken at #21 by Portland, really put a crush on point guards, and it is more than obvious that the Heat needed to move into the #28 spot to secure Cole.
The George Hill trade by San Antonio opened a gaping hole at the backup point guard spot, and with the Spurs sitting there at #29, Cole was sure to be taken. If not them, the Bulls at #30 would surely leverage Cole into a couple of second round picks, and would surely keep him away from Miami. What is interesting is that Chicago, being a direct competitor to the Heat, made a cost saving trade with Minnesota and then had their trade partner help their chief rival. You gotta think that they didn’t know about the Miami component of the trade. If so, very slick maneuvering by Riley.
As for Norris Cole, everybody I have spoken too is raving about the pick and spouting off his particulars, such as his 40/20 and 9 game versus Youngstown State. What I do know about him is that he is lengthy at almost 6-2 and has a great defensive disposition.
If Jimmer Fredette’s defensive disposition is a 1 in a scale of 1 to 10…Cole’s is a 10. He averaged over 2 steals a game at Cleveland State. As a sophomore, he played the off-guard and began to improve his outside shooting. His handle is superb at this point and he really has a great feel for the pick and roll game. His three point shooting is average, but that is something the Heat has worked with other draftees on and improved over time. The Heat has a knack for improving players as shooters.
Norris Cole’s greatest asset is his speed, which allows him to get in the lane and draw contact to get to the foul line. He averaged 7.4 FTA’s per game and shot over 85% from the line. A mature player at 22, and a 3-year starter in college (4-year senior), he meets the mold of the type of rookie Coach Erik Spoelstra can trust with minutes in his rotation.
I feel as if the Heat hit a homerun with this pick and most importantly, recognized an opportunity to trade up and did not waste a draft.