Season-in-Review: ALONZO GEE
Season Overview: If there’s a player on the Cavaliers whose value can’t be quantified by numbers, it’s Alonzo Gee.
Gee’s calling card – besides his aerial exploits – is his consistency. He was born in Florida but has the blue-collar approach of a true Clevelander. He’s missed three games in the past two seasons and – along with Tristan Thompson – didn’t miss a single outing in 2012-13. (The Cavaliers, as a team, missed 171 combined games to injury and illness this past year.)
On a team as young as the Wine and Gold were last season, the former ‘Bama standout’s consistency was key to keeping the team afloat. Not only is Gee one of the squad’s most dependable performers, but – at just 26 – was often the oldest starter in the lineup. Not only was he one of the elder statesmen on the fourth-youngest team in the league, but Gee – who signed as a free agent on December 28, 210 – was also one of its longest-tenured.
Gee was the Cavaliers’ starting 3 in every game but one (in which he moved to the 2 as Omri Casspi got the nod at small forward). He notched double-figures in 47 of those games. On the season, he averaged 10.3 ppg, 3.9 boards and 1.6 assists per contest for Cleveland. He led the team in scoring four times, in rebounds twice and assists three times.
But Alonzo doesn’t make his bones on the offensive end of the floor. Former coach Byron Scott described him as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. He guards three different positions – usually the position the best opposing player occupies – and can bring that heat for 94 feet. He led the Cavaliers in steals in 28 occasions and was tops on the squad with a total of 107.
Gee may not have the elite offensive numbers of a prototypical starting small forward, but Gee was the best defender on a team that sorely needed someone to step up. And for the past two seasons, Gee has stepped up to his assignment almost every single night.
Highlight: Gee put up solid offensive numbers throughout the season – netting double-figures in eight straight games during one stretch and, in a Feb. 9 loss to Denver, went 8-of-8 from the floor (3-of-3 from long distance) for 20 points. But perhaps the highlight of his season was in the form of just two points – a put-back with 0.4 to play to give Cleveland a 113-11 road win over Atlanta.
Lowlight: Gee looked to be running a little low on gas before the All-Star break and as the final month of the season began. But true to form, Alonzo bounced back – following up a scoreless performance with that 20-point effort in Denver and rallying to close the season by notching double-figures in three of his last four games.
Odds and Ends: When discussing the Alabama Crimson Tide’s National Championship win, Gee talked about his early football aspirations – playing wideout, defensive end and linebacker. (“I liked defensive end! Run in, get the running back, get the quarterback!”) He thought about trying out at Alabama but decided to stick with straight hoops.
By the Numbers: 0 … combined games missed this past season by Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson, becoming the first pair of Cavs to start every game since Andre Miller and Clarence Weatherspoon did so in 2000-01. The only other NBA duo to play all 82 in 2012-13 was Houston’s Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.
Looking Forward: Alonzo will have some stiffer competition for his starting spot in 2013-14, but that’s a good thing for him and the Cavaliers. And competition hasn’t stopped the undrafted, thrice-cut Gee yet. And one thing can already be penciled in from July: Gee will suit up and go hard every night – an underappreciated quality in today’s NBA.
Quotable: Tristan Thompson on Alonzo Gee’s durability and mindset over the course of an 82-game grind …“Alonzo’s played hurt. He’s got some bumps and bruises, but he’s a warrior and a tough guy and he’s not going to let anything stop him. If he can walk, he can play – that’s his mentality.”