NBA@2: Cole Already Focused On Title Defense
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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Miami HEAT point guard Norris Cole may have been the youngest player on last season’s championship squad, but he has the right mindset going into his sophomore year.
Rather than feeling like he’s reached the pinnacle of success after winning a title as a rookie, Cole is already grinding away in preparation to defend it. He played in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 13 points and four assists in four contests.
“It feels good (to be a champion),” Cole said to HOOPSWORLD. “But here at the summer league I’m trying to get better. Our team is trying to get better. So, that’s what I’m focused on.
“I’m excited that we won a championship but I’m back in work mode trying to get better. That championship is only going to last until training camp then it’s not going to matter anymore. This is my training camp to get ready for training camp, so I’m happy that we’re champions but I’m trying to get better.”
This was Cole’s first summer league experience since he missed out on it last offseason due to the lockout.
“I missed it last year,” Cole said. “I was looking forward to it. The more time you spend in a system the better, especially a system like the HEAT’s, a championship organization. I’m looking forward to spending more time in it this summer.”
As the team’s point guard of the future, the coaching staff had clear expectations laid out for Cole.
“They want me to be a floor general,” Cole said. “They want to hear my voice hear me out on the court directing, they want to see me making players better. I think today was a good step but I’m going to continue to get better at it.
“I think I’m going to benefit a lot. The point guard position, especially for a young player, repetition is a key. The more time I get with players the more time I get to go over the skill development with the coaches the better I’ll be. Our team is already veteran oriented, so I have to get in there and just know where I fit in. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”
When the regular season begins, Cole will have far more weapons around him than he did in summer league.
HEAT President Pat Riley, like Cole, wasn’t content with just winning a championship. He wanted to make sure to that they were even better as they got ready to go for back-to-back titles. So, he went out and signed former All-Stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
“On paper it looks great,” Cole said. “I can’t wait to get to work with these guys. They’re both ultimate professionals and they’re the best at what they do. You can find guys who are going to shoot better than Allen, Lewis, Mike Miller or James Jones. The floor should be spaced out nicely.”
Crowder The Perfect Fit In Dallas
While summer league is a tremendous opportunity for players to earn a roster spot, it’s far from ideal. There is very little time to prepare and most of the players have no familiarity with each other at all.
None of that mattered to Dallas Mavericks rookie forward Jae Crowder, who was named an All-Star after averaging 16 points, five rebounds and two steals a game.
“I’m a little different when it comes to that,” Crowder said to HOOPSWORLD. “I like to fit in. So I do all the right things to be a great teammate and fit into a system. I learn how to adapt, that’s due to me and my surroundings in college. I learned how to adapt to a lot of different guys. Being a good teammate is easy for me to adapt to.”
Joining Crowder on the All-Star team was his teammate Dominique Jones, who impressed in a different way than the defensive-oriented Crowder.
“He’s great,” Crowder said. “The numbers speak for themselves. He led the team, did what he had to do. He controlled the tempo at the point, showing that he can play the point and slide to the two. He’s very versatile on the offensive end. He’s a great player.”
With all the changeover on the Mavericks’ roster, both Crowder, who was signed midway through the event, and Jones will have to chance to play major roles next season.
“It’s very exciting,” Crowder said. “Every rookie wants that opportunity but now that it’s unfolding right before my eyes I just have to go get it. That’s up to me.
“The coaching staff wants me to bring the energy and defensive mindset that I bring. Knock down open shots. Guys like Dirk Nowitzki draw so much attention that whenever you get that shot it’s going to be wide open, you just have to knock it down.”
Wanamaker Looking To Stick in Atlanta
Former Pittsburgh point guard Brad Wanamaker is still looking to work his way onto an NBA roster. He played with the Atlanta Hawks at the Las Vegas Summer League and talked to HOOPSWORLD about what he needs to do to make the team along with his thoughts on rookie guard John Jenkins.
Record 38 NBA Players Participating In The Olympics
A record 38 NBA players will be featured on national team rosters for the basketball tournament at the 2012 Olympic Games, up from 28 in 2008.
The games will also showcase a record 16 former NBA players on team rosters bringing the total number of current and former players competing to 54. This year’s rosters also represent the most-ever national teams with NBA representation, with 11 of the 12 teams having at least one current NBA player.
Twenty NBA teams have players represented on national team rosters with the San Antonio Spurs topping the list with five. Oklahoma City Thunder has four, while the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, and Portland Trailblazers each have three players competing. Three NBA teams (Heat, Hornets, and Lakers) have two players in the tournament.
Outside of the United States, France has the most NBA players on its roster with six, followed by Spain with five. Brazil and Argentina both feature four NBA players on team rosters.
In addition, eight players whose rights are held by an NBA team are featured on Olympic rosters.
- Argentina – Carlos Delfino (Milwaukee Bucks), Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs), Pablo Prigioni (New York Knicks), Luis Scola (Phoenix Suns)
- Australia – Patrick Mills (San Antonio Spurs)
- Brazil – Leandra Barbosa (Free Agent), Nene (Washington Wizards), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- China – Yi Jianlian (Free agent)
- France – Nicolas Batum (Portland Trail Blazers), Nando de Colo (San Antonio Spurs), Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs), Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards), Ronny Turiaf (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Great Britain – Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Joel Freeland (Portland Trail Blazers)
- Nigeria – Al Farouq Aminu (New Orleans Hornets)
- Russia – Timofey Mozgov (Denver Nuggets)
- Spain – Jose Calderon (Toronto Raptors), Victor Claver (Portland Trail Blazers), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies), Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder)
- USA – Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder), Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers), LeBron James (Miami HEAT), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets)
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