Season in Review: Alonzo Gee
Season Overview: One of the key words reiterated all season long by Byron Scott was “opportunity.” Transactions, injuries and ineffective play provided plenty of that precious NBA commodity in 2011-12.
And for the second straight season, the player who made the most of his opportunity was forward Alonzo Gee.
The former ‘Bama standout was waived four times by three different teams before signing on with the Cavaliers on December 28, 2010. In his first year with the Wine and Gold, Gee appeared in 40 games, starting the final 23 contests of the campaign.
But during last year’s NBA lockout, Gee didn’t rest on his laurels back home in Riviera Beach, Florida. In fact, he went to play somewhere that’ll never be confused with Riviera Beach: Gdynia, Poland – home of the Asseco Prokom Gdynia. While with the Polish club, Gee continued to work on his game, most notably his outside shooting.
When the 2011-12 finally did tip off, Gee once again found himself in a reserve role. Omri Casspi was acquired from Sacramento just days before the lockout and started the first 34 games of the shortened season. But before a March 3 contest against the Wizards, Coach Scott re-inserted Gee as a starter and – save three games missed with a left ankle sprain – that’s where he remained the rest of the way.
On the season, Gee finished with totals of 10.6 points (4th on the team), 5.1 rebounds (also 4th) and 1.8 assists per contest. Gee notched double-figures in 35 games – topping out with a 22-point, 10-rebound performance in an Easter Sunday loss in New Jersey.
Gee’s numbers might not be dazzling, but his above-the-rim exploits definitely were. The Cavs’ high-flier had fans gasping when he took a terrible fumble after a huge dunk in the home opener and they held their breaths on every flight approach after that.
One of Coach Scott’s favorites, all Gee has done since suiting up in the Wine and Gold is get better each year. He’ll head into the offseason trying to add the mid-range game to his burgeoning skill-set.
His best run of the season spanned two weeks after he was added to the starting lineup – March 3-18. In that span, the Cavaliers went 3-5 and Gee averaged 15.4 points and 6.0 boards per contest – notching double-figures in each.
Lowlight: Like many players in the league – especially those not used to playing 82 games normally – Gee faltered down the stretch as the Cavs schedule ground down in the final two weeks.
From April 11 through the close of the season, Gee shot just .293 from the floor while missing three games with an injured ankle. He still notched double-figures in four games and shot over 90 percent from the stripe, but it was obvious Gee wasn’t the same player as he was mid-season.
Odds and Ends: … It was already random enough that Alonzo Gee chose to play in Poland. But when he did, he bonded with former Cavalier, Devin Brown.
“(Brown) was telling me how much he loved Cleveland,” recalled Gee. “He was just a good dude. We experienced the same things. He went to the D-League, I went to the D-League; he was rookie of the year, I was rookie of the year; he was in San Antonio, he was with the Cavs. Everything was related to each other, so it was good.”
By the Numbers: 4.5, 1.9, 1.1 … points, rebounds and assist per game improvements made by Alonzo Gee from last season to this one.
Looking forward: Gee came to Camp as one of the most improved Cavaliers and, with a true offseason of work with Cavalier coaches, should step up again next season.
He left for last offseason needing to work on his outside shooting – notably the corner three – and he came back with that shot in his repertoire. This offseason, he’ll focus on the mid-range game and his ball-handling in traffic. Already the squad’s most dynamic athlete, Gee could easily make another big leap next year with those weapons in his arsenal.
Quotable: Gee, on why he doesn’t celebrate his dunks …
“Because my (defensive) assignment is hard. Every game I have to guard the best player, so I ain’t got time to waste any energy jumping up and down. I just try to keep it cool.”