Pat Riley happy to get Norris Cole
MIAMI -- Less than two weeks after losing the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat made their first addition to their 2011-12 roster by selecting Cleveland State point guard Norris Cole with the 28th pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
Speaking on a conference call with media on Friday, Heat president Pat Riley said the Heat "felt vulnerable" at the point guard position and the 6-foot-2 Cole filled a need. Riley also revealed the 22-year-old was the 18th ranked player on the Heat's board.
"We're happy with the pick," Riley said. "We feel it's a perfect situation for us."
The point guard, who hails from Dayton, Ohio, averaged 21.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists during his senior season for Cleveland State while posting a 29.5 player efficiency rating (PER).
The Heat originally held the 31st pick in the draft but made a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to net the 28th spot in order to land Cole. In return, the Heat sent the 31st pick, a future second-round pick, and cash considerations to Minnesota.
Riley felt that there was a possibility that another team would target Cole before the 31st pick. The San Antonio Spurs, who had agreed to trade their backup point guard George Hill to the Indiana Pacers during Thursday's draft, and the Chicago Bulls held the 29th and 30th picks respectively.
"There was a consensus that this was the player that we wanted to take," Riley said on Friday. "We didn't want to get left at the altar."
Cole is expected to bolster the Heat's backcourt, which was previously without a point guard heading into next season.
In a draft stacked with talented point guards, Riley said the Heat rated Cole ahead of "maybe four or five" other point guards drafted ahead of him.
"Did we have him ahead of [Kyrie] Irving, [Brandon] Knight or [Kemba] Walker? No," Riley said. "But in our minds, he was ahead of the other guys."
The Heat were enamored with Cole's speed and defensive ability at the point guard position.
"His ability to be a game-changer and a pace-changer is what we wanted and that's what we got in him," Riley said. "That's why rated him ahead of other players."
Cole is no stranger to the Heat's home floor. In the 2009 NCAA tournament, the point guard spearheaded an upset over Wake Forest in the opening round in AmericanAirlines Arena. Cole recorded 22 points and four assists in that game as a sophomore.
Tom Haberstroh covers the NBA for ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine.