So here it is, since the Golden State Warriors closed out the 2014-2015 NBA season, fans have been waiting with baited breath for the Alonzo Gee 2015-2016 season preview. Well wait no more. Pelicans GM Dell Dempssigned Gee in July to provide the team with some much needed depth at the small forward position. The team probably expected Gee to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 minutes per game, however injuries could force him into a bigger role early in the season.
Better NBA teams can get the most out of role players because they realize that the vast majority of players are not and will never be good at more than a couple of skills. Consequently, they bring in players that fill very specific roles and ask them to do only what they are good at. This is why we see players that were left for dead succeed with teams like the Spurs. I believe that Demps brought in Alonzo Gee with exactly that kind of skill specific role in mind.
I Have A Particular Set of Skills
Gee has a couple specific skill-sets that could be very helpful to New Orleans this season, namely shooting and defense (or at least defensive flexibility and potential). Gee's career three point percentage is a pedestrian 32.5%, but his career three point percentage from the corner (a highly prized shot in Alvin Gentry's offense) is a scorching 54.4% (according to basketball-reference.com).
Defensively, Gee has a reputation as a solid defender and his ability to defend multiple positions is something that NBA teams covet. This level of flexibility should theoretically allow the Pelicans to switch on defense without creating major mismatches. If Gee continues his hot shooting from the corner, and can defend at a slightly above average level, he will be an absolute steal for the Pelicans who are paper thin at the small forward position.
Doing Gee Thangz
So what then can we expect from Mr. Gee this season? While he was originally brought in as a supplemental player with some upside, Gee will now be forced to play extended minutes with the Pelicans likely missing Luke Babbitt, Quincy Pondexter, and Tyreke Evans to start the season. Offensively, the team won't look for much out of Gee, but if Dante Cunningham struggles with his new found three point range early, New Orleans may be forced to give Alonzo a chance and hope that he can provide the additional spacing.
Defensively is where the team is hoping Gee can make an even larger impact. He has shown the ability to guard multiple positions. If he can add some defensive depth to the Pelicans that would help the team cut down on penetration by opposing guards and wing players which was a big issue for them defensively last year. In addition, Gee might allow Pondexter to play more shooting guard, his better-suited position.
In my opinion Alonzo Gee could be one of those sneaky, out of nowhere, pickups that we have become accustomed to out of Dell Demps. Make no mistake, Gee is not a star in any light, but the Pelicans do not expect nor require anything remotely similar. Gentry will only ask that he takes and makes corner threes, and he gives maximum effort on the defensive end. Those are two specific skill sets that Gee has displayed throughout his NBA career.
If you ask me who will be getting the lion share of small forward minutes by the end of the season I would say Quincy Pondexter and Alonzo Gee... Sorry Dante.