Player preview: Alonzo Gee
Why did I pick Alonzo Gee before those remaining?
Because this series is about the most important Cavaliers, not the most popular. Alonzo Gee is not very popular among Cavaliers fans, but the fact is, he could very well be the starter at small forward this year. I’m thrilled for the newfound quasi-depth that the Cavaliers will have on the wings this season, but I don’t think any of our new wings (Clark, Karasev, Felix), or our holdover from a dreadful bench (Miles) will unseat Gee as the starter. There is cause for optimism with the new players, but we can tend to be enamored with new players and easily frustrated with incumbents. I am not arguing that Gee will be a star, or even that he will finish games, but that he will start for this team and he will quite possibly be an essential ingredient to our defense this year. For a little more in-depth look at what Gee can provide, we turn to the next section.
What does Alonzo Gee bring to the team this year?
Cavaliers fans can recite Gee’s flaws very easily, but let’s focus a little more on what he does bring to the table.
Gee isn’t an elite athlete, but he’s definitely a good enough athlete that he might be able to slash to the rim a little bit with the improved guard play creating space and good passes for him.
Gee also doesn’t take too many shots. Some of you might feel like the 9.1 he took per game last year were too much, but he tied for 103rd in the NBA last year in FGA last year. That’s extremely low for a guy that played 30 minutes a game, which shows a lot of restraint. We all know Gee’s shooting numbers aren’t great, but he isn’t shooting us out of any games.
The acute observer will note that "not shooting us out of games" isn’t enough to earn minutes. The thing that got Gee a place in the league is his defense. And some are wondering if he was ever really that good.
Gee was a favorite of Byron Scott, so we heard a lot about his defense, whether it was there or not. Gee’s defensive numbers seemed to drop off a bit last year, but he consistently guarded our opponents’ best player, even if it was a point guard. This had to be wearing on Gee, but Gee didn’t miss a game. I don’t think he’s an elite defender, but he is probably our best perimeter defender, and he could be even better this year.
Gee’s future with the Cavaliers will be tied very closely to Earl Clark. Even if Clark doesn’t start, his arrival means fewer minutes for Gee, which could mean a greater defensive intensity. Also, the Cavaliers have a defensive coach now, and his presence could make Gee a key stabilizer on our defense. With the improvements the Cavaliers have made this year, I think the fans will be less frustrated with Gee’s deficiencies and able to enjoy his defense instead.
It would be nice if we had a player with Gee’s defense and a much greater ability to hit the corner 3, but I’m not sure Clark is that guy. If I’m wrong, and Clark is a much improved shooter than he might be more valuable, but if there’s a negligible difference in their 3pt. shooting, than I think Gee’s defense makes him the starter and more important of the two.
What is Alonzo Gee’s long-term potential with the Cavaliers?
Gee’s long-term potential with the Cavaliers is closely tied to Earl Clark’s. Gee could still improve, but at this point, it seems like we know what we will get with him. Clark on the other hand made a mini-leap last year, and might have another one in him. While I picked Gee over Clark, and truly think he’ll be more important this year, but between the two, I think Clark is the only one with the potential to be a solid starter. So if Clark becomes a viable starter, maybe Gee becomes his backup. If Clark plays just a little bit better than Gee, the Cavaliers probably go get another SF and get rid of Gee in favor of Clark. If Clark’s successes last year were a mirage, they need to get another SF, and they may decide to keep Gee as the backup. But Gee’s future with the Cavaliers is either non-existent or as a backup. I guess he’s young enough that he could surprise me and turn into a starter-caliber player on a playoff team, but I doubt it.