Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Norris Cole


With three picks in this draft, it’s safe to say most fans want the Pistons to come out of it with two promising bigs. Although that may or may not play out, the point guard position is another lightning rod and there just so happens to be a player projected in the second round who could help at that spot in Norris Cole.


Measurables: 6-foot-1, 175 pounds,  senior PG from Cleveland State

Key stats: 21.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.2 steals per game while shooting 44 percent

Projected: Second round

How would he help the Pistons?

Cole has all of the characteristics teams want in a PG: he’s a good leader, he’s strong, he has decent range and he’s a willing passer. He’s also shown some defensive ability as one of the Horizon League leaders in steals and his rebounding average is good for a guard his size. He’s had to score a lot as Cleveland State’s best offensive player, but he’s still a more natural PG who has played that position throughout college unlike some other PG prospects in the draft who have spent more time on the wing than as facilitators.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

The Horizon League is certainly not the highest level of Division I competition, but Cole has faced talented guards like Butler’s Shelvin Mack (also a NBA prospect) and the University of Detroit’s Ray McCallum (Seriously … remember that name. He might be a lottery pick in a year or two.). Still though, there isn’t the night-in, night-out great competition that is required of NBA guards and that leaves some question as to how quickly Cole will adapt. Also, as the focal point of his team’s offense, Cole will have to adjust to playing a role in order to earn a roster spot and minutes as a second round pick.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

"The most improved aspect of Cole’s game this season would have to be his point guard abilities and overall feel for the game, as he’s developed into a complete point guard capable of making all the passes needed in the halfcourt and transition. Cole does most of his damage operating out of the pick-and-roll, where he sees the entire floor at all times, keeps his head up, and frequently makes tough passes out of double teams to open teammates."

From ESPN:

"Cole emerged from the Deron Williams Skills Academy sessions in Chicago with scouts raving about his high basketball IQ, steadiness on the floor and leadership ability. He isn’t elite in any category, but a number of scouts walked away from the camp feeling he was as good a prospect as anyone there. He’s been a little under our radar the past few years, but we’ll give him a close look during his senior season. Consider him a potential second-round sleeper."

From Waiting For Next Year:

"But even then, while I thought they’d be as good as Cleveland State could possibly be under Waters, I never thought that success would actually include sending alumni into the NBA.Because that’s where Cedric Jackson’s gone, and that’s where Norris Cole is going.  For sure.  He will play in the NBA.In fact, NBA Draft.Net as of Friday morning has Norris Cole projected as the 43rd overall pick, going to the Phoenix Suns in the 2nd Round.  Then he had a monster game on Saturday.Then highlights of he and his squad’s game were played on ESPN along with his profile pic being plastered right next to Blake Griffin’s all night last night.  On Sportscenter.What’s also specifically cool, besides Cole’s flat-top, is the fact that he’s a finalist for the Bob Cousy award.  A finalist."

Hickory High’s comparisons:

Ian Levy from Hickory High contacted us with some pretty cool work he’s doing. Here’s his explanation:

"I’ve built a system for making statistical comparisons between draft prospects and players drafted from other seasons. The system produces similarity scores, something Basketball-Reference and others, have used in the past. The players are compared across a number of categories and a score is generated on a scale of 0-1000, 1000 being a perfect match. For example, Kemba Walker’s closest comparables were Troy Bell-892, Eric Maynor-884, and Devin Harris-882.It’s similar to systems that Kevin Pelton and John Hollinger use, although mine is obviously a lot less refined. I believe Hollinger’s system is a straight projection of NBA performance. Pelton’s system compares college players to NBA players to try and predict a career arc. Mine is simply a snapshot of a moment in time: Player A’s college production most closely resembles Player B’s. It doesn’t account for things like potential, personality, athleticism, etc.; other than how they manifest in a player’s statistical production. For that reason it’s a little limited in projecting how successful a player may be. I also haven’t figured out how to convert Euroleague stats, so at this time it just covers college players."

Here’s a link to Ian’s table of contents for players he’s already completed the statistical work for. Here’s the link to Cole’s page. As you can see, his closest similarity scores from college belong to Eric Maynor, Rodney Stuckey and Devin Harris, not bad company, particularly for a projected second rounder, if Cole can come close to matching the production of any of those guys as pros. Check out the players Ian has the work done on and I’ll go back and add links to the players he’s finished working and who I’ve profiled in earlier Draft Dreams posts.