When Norris Cole joined the Miami Heat in late 2011 as a rookie, he intrigued me.
I'm not going to lie and say that from his debut I knew that he would turn into an All-Star point guard, because he's not one, and he may never reach that level and I'm not Clairvoyant Bill. Nevertheless, the resilient point guard from Cleveland State who's acted as Miami's back-up his whole career is finally turning the page and embracing a starting role, and doing so extremely well thus far.
Cole first demonstrated flashes of his potential in his home debut during the lockout-shortened season against Miami's then rival, the Paul Pierce-led Boston Celtics.
Against Boston, Cole played like a house on fire and absolutely torched the Celtics, eventually sealing the win for Miami. Throughout that game, he exhibited quickness, defensive ability, and an incredible shooting stroke.
Despite delivering in crucial moments during the postseason, Cole has never been an enormous factor for Miami, and he didn't need to be with LeBron running the show. With that being said, there have been glimpses of greatness with Norris Cole and I can't help, but feel that he's finally turning the page and writing the next chapter of his career.
Norris Cole has always been confident, he displays that through sporting one of the NBA's most unique haircuts (Norris' cut is better than yours Shumpert! He also he had it first.) as well as having the willingness to knock down important jump shots. Cole also displays a tremendous amount of hustle, and having played 149 straight NBA games he's known for his durability as well as his willingness to sacrifice his body.
It's interesting that Cole himself recognizes his confidence is an essential part of his game, explaining during the Eastern Conference Finals that it's a make or break phenomenon after stepping up to defend Lance Stephenson:
"I take on the challenge," Cole said. "I love the competition. If they have confidence in me to do that, that's great. But also, you have to have confidence in yourself to get it done. Everyone can have confidence in you, but if you don't have confidence in yourself, you're done."
As aforementioned Norris Cole's confidence translates well into his jump shooting and that's been made evident numerous times particularly in the postseason. Cole's shooting was excellent in the 2013 NBA Finals and really had me believing that 2014 would be his breakout season. I was wrong. In the 2013 NBA Finals, Cole was able to shoot 53% from three when Miami first vanquished the Spurs, but his three-point percentage fell to just 37% the following postseason.
In a new role, on a new team (so to speak) Cole finally has a chance to make his statement for keeping the starting role in place of Mario Chalmers. Thus far, Cole has structured an impeccable case.
Against the Wizards in Miami's season opener, Cole was incredible delivering a stat line of 23 points (a career-high), two assists, and three rebounds as well as creating a small waiver wire rush in my fantasy league. In the game, Cole demonstrated advanced athleticism through contorting his body to make impressive buckets, an improved court vision as well as improved team chemistry. His jumper is also a thing of beauty, and will make teams pay down the line.
It's been said (by the Heat's broadcast team) that nobody on the roster puts in more time working on their game than Norris Cole, and the results are apparent.
The Miami Heat have always been a meritocracy, and through perseverance Cole has a chance to help lead this team to great things. While it's still early to tell, Cole has all the tools at his disposal to make this season his breakout year.
"All it is is hard work. It’s nothing special for me. It’s hard work." - Norris Cole