There are certainly similarities between this season and last season for the Heat
In the past two years, the Heat have dominated most games with explosive offense and suffocating defense in spite of unprecedented media scrutiny, and were more over less the favorites to win the East and NBA Finals.
Over the next weeks we will consider and analyze some of the differences from last season, and why these are changes of optimism, in hopes of bringing the Larry Obrien trophy to South Beach.
Tonight I present to you,
Last year’s second unit was decent. The lineup is fairly similar, with Haslem and Miller leading the charge three fourths into the first quarter. This year, Miller’s shot is much more on point, and although Haslem is averaging career lows of 6.4 PPG on .418% shooting, he still remains somewhat of an offensive threat and stifling defensive presence.
But it’s Norris Cole that is bringing the Heat the punch they need coming off the bench.
His shot selection is flat out ridiculous sometimes, and he can turnover the ball in a way that makes you cringe… all of which though is expected out of a rookie
But if Norris Cole is nothing else, he is completely fearless.
And his fearlessness is combined with a natural ability to score, both from midrange jump shots and his ability to drive to the hoop.
As I’ve stated before, he has offensive similarities to Allen Iverson.
He’s only averaging 8.4 PPG, but it’s when and how those points come that matters.
It usually happens the same way. Three minutes left in the first quarter, the Heat pull out either Wade or Lebron (sometimes both) and put in Haslem, Miller, and or Battier, and Cole.
And Cole explodes.
In games where Cole scores 10 points or more, the Heat are 13-2.
He isn’t a top NBA player by any stretch, and some in depth analytics offered by 82games.com or Basketball-reference.com show some undeniable, borderline disturbing holes in Cole’s game.
But it’s the stretches in the first and third quarters when Spo rests Bron and Wade that Cole’s impact on the team is grandiose.
It’s almost humorous watching him sub into games. He has more energy than he knows what to do with. He reminds me of the Joker in the Dark Knight, attempting to explain to Batman how and why he operates the way he does “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just do things.” (Reading the quote doesn’t do justice to the impeccable performance by Ledger, check out the clip.
Norris Cole is a natural basketball talent with more ferver than he has the ability to contain. He’s a young player with a blossoming and inherent sense of excitement mixed with physical ability; a dog chasing cars.
But the car is the ball.
And the kid can put it in hoop.