As sharp as his flat top, Norris Cole has played extremely efficient during the early stages of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Coming off the bench, Cole has provided a solid defensive presence as well as a reliable scoring option for Miami. Meanwhile, Mario Chalmers has faded into the background with mediocre production this postseason. What this spells is a cause for concern for Rio and his future with the Miami Heat.
Cole Versus Chalmers
With Cole garnishing attention from analysts, fans and the Heat staff, he is bolstering his value as a viable point guard in this league. The high-energy, quick-footed guard is stepping it up when it counts: in the playoffs. He's averaging 9.3 points per game (ppg) compared to his 1.8 ppg in the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
And Cole has performed even better during the Eastern Conference Semi Finals this season, averaging 12.5 ppg while shooting 75% from the field (18 of 22) and 90% from three-point land (9 of 10). That's what you call undeniable efficiency.
On the other hand, Chalmers is averaging 7.1 ppg while posting a 41% FG percentage and shooting 30% from behind the arc this series. Don't forget, Chalmers is also getting more minutes than Cole. In other words, he's being nowhere near as effective as his backup.
Miami's Point Guard Situation
The Miami Heat's "Position-Less Basketball" system does not require the role of a traditional point guard. With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade doing most of the ball-handling, the Heat's point guard primarily needs to worry about consistently hitting open shots and playing sound defense. That's exactly what Cole is providing right now.
Keep in mind that Chalmers is entering the final year of his contract next season. If Cole keeps improving and Chalmers continues to be stagnant, Rio will essentially become expendable next season.
Think about it, if Miami believes that Cole is the answer now, then trading away Chalmers will make complete sense for them. That's $4 million they can take off their salary cap while receiving a future draft pick or an affordable player in return. Plus, team's in need of a point guard could test out Chalmers with the benefit of having his expiring contract (i.e. if things don't work out they don't re-sign him, if they do they can negotiate on their own terms).
Knowing Pat Riley, he will field all calls inquiring about Chalmers starting this offseason. We all know that Godfather Riley can lure a veteran point guard to replace Chalmers with a minimum contract offer.
So, either Rio responds in the coming games with exceptional play or he'll be driven out of town by the Cole Train. It's as simple as that.