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Miami Heat make savvy move in trading for Norris Cole on draft night: Fan reaction
The Miami Heat surprised a few people at the 2011 NBA Draft on Thursday, June 23, including me, as they made a trade with the Timberwolves to acquire Cleveland State point guard Norris Cole—whom Minnesota had gotten in a separate trade from the Chicago Bulls.
I mentioned Cole as a player the Heat were looking at in a recent article dealing with what to expect from the South Florida franchise this offseason, but I must admit I felt they'd probably go with Butler's Shelvin Mack.
Pat Riley, however, seems to view the speedy 6-2, 175 lbs. Cole as having the bigger upside, effectively trading up three places by giving the Timberwolves the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic, whom they acquired with the 31st pick in the draft (first in the second-round), along with a future second-round pick and cash.
Cole, who is an Ohio native like LeBron James(notes), averaged 21.7 points per game for the Vikings his senior season, but his game wasn't limited to just scoring. Along with being able to pour in points, he averaged 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists while playing 35.7 minutes per game.
What's most impressive is how much he progressed during his four years at Cleveland State. His freshman year he was rarely used, averaging just 4.9 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game.
His sophomore season saw him become a starter, and up his averages to 13.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Finally beginning to get a feel for his game, Cole then averaged 16.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game his junior year.
His senior season is when he shined, though, getting the notice of the entire nation with his 41 point, 20 rebound, 9 assist night in an 86-76 victory for the Vikings over Youngstown State on Saturday, February 12, 2011; the 40+ points and 20 rebounds being something only done in college hoops one other time in the past 15 years.
Cole only shot 43.9 percent from the floor his senior season, and averaged 43.5 percent shooting his entire career at Cleveland State. However, most reports I've read show he was taking a lot of very tough shots in order to get the scoring done for his Vikings squad, so I'm confident his averages will rise if he's not forced to take on too much.
The best thing about this pickup by Riley is the fact Cole is a supremely talented defender, having averaged 2.2 steals per game his senior season, and 1.5 per game over his four years in college. The manner in which he locked down Andrew Goudelock from the College of Charleston in the NIT this year should have Heat fans salivating.
After all, the biggest problem with Miami's point guard situation during the 2010-11 season seemed to be the team would have to sacrifice scoring for defense and vice versa whenever they switched out Mike Bibby(notes) for Mario Chalmers(notes) or the other way around. With Cole backing up Chalmers this upcoming season, I can't imagine how that will be an issue.
Instead, the Heat will be getting an offensive infusion off the bench who provides defense as good, as or even better than Chalmers.
In fact, I wouldn't doubt there's the possibility Norris could end up becoming the starting point guard for Miami by season's end considering he doesn't have a propensity for boneheaded mistakes like Mario does.
I think this move by Riley and the Heat also indicates strongly they'll be going after Samuel Dalembert(notes) in free agency, hoping he will settle for the mid-level exception to play for a team he's said himself fits the kind of game he'd like to be playing.
Considering Miami is favored by most bookmakers to win a title this upcoming year (if there is one), Dalembert has to realize one of his best chances to get a ring could be with the Heat. It also doesn't hurt that he has a house in Boca Raton, Miami should have a good shot.
The possible NBA lockout could end up putting a crimp in those plans, as it seems the players and owners are growing ever farther apart in their negotiations. The recent progress of the NFL lockout that looks like it could come to an end before any games are jeopardized might have people thinking the NBA labor strife will go the same route, but the fact is, there are completely different issues involved.
Whatever happens, though, the Heat made a very savvy move on Thursday evening, and Riley may just have found the point guard and floor general who can turn the "Three Kings" into something so devastating nothing can stop them.
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Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
*Daniel Barber has been a fan of all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.
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