Back in July, I mused Alonzo Gee may turn out to be an important signing. The half-hearted premonition came to fruition... but for all the unfortunate surrounding circumstances, not some spectacular reinvention of his game. When Quincy Pondexter failed to participate in a single contest, Luke Babbitt proved guarding opposing wingmen once again a dastardly task and going small with Tyreke Evans at the three was just a figment of our imaginations as we tallied the missed games, Gee was called upon to fill a load of vacant minutes at small forward.
One thousand, six hundred and thirty-two minutes later, the third highest season total of his career, Gee represented roughly reason #41 of why the New Orleans Pelicans failed to meet expectations. One way players, especially non-shooting and non-creating specialists, are a dying breed, yet Gee was tasked with the fifth highest amount of minutes on the team during the 2016 season.
For what it's worth, his offensive production, or lack thereof, shouldn't have come as any surprise. A quick glance at his shooting statistics over at Basketball Reference should have reinforced something a long time ago: knocking down field goals isn't his thing.
If Gee ventured outside of five feet from the rim, icy cold colors dominated his shot chart. The hope that he could morph into an acceptable spot up shooter from the perimeter never materialized (43.6 eFG%). He surpassed 30% from three-point territory during the lone month of December. And from the advantageous corner three spots on the floor? He made 16 of 54 attempts on the season, good for a lowly 29.6 FG%.
However as the shot chart above denotes, he had a stellar conversion rate within five feet -- a 67.3 FG% -- one of the best marks in the league with a minimum of 100 attempts. Regularly, his finishes around the rim were of the highlight variety.
In addition, his enviable genetic code was consistently put to good use on the defensive end. Gee often drew the most difficult assignments on a nightly basis, and for the most part, he acquitted himself well. He finished with the second best defensive rating on the team (104.1) and the 15th highest DRPM among all qualifying small forwards.
Earlier in the season, assistant coach Robert Pack sung his praises.
"He's a selfless player and goes out there and gives it his all. He accepts the assignment and locks into the details. You see it in the body positioning and the way he goes out there that he's prepared to guard the guy he's assigned to."
When Dell Demps inked him to a contract, the prevailing thought was he might opt out of the second season of his two-year deal. However, there exists a reasonable chance he will accept his player option because of an injury suffered in late March. He ruptured his quad in the Pelicans win against the Knicks and was given a 6-8 week timetable.
Despite the jump in the salary cap, would other teams have interest in signing a one-dimensional veteran who suffered a significant leg injury? Moreover, should a soon to be 29-year old turn down close to $1.4 million, this after having earned under a total of $11 million across seven seasons?
Maybe, maybe not. Although Gee's friendship with Anthony Davis will play a part, his decision will ultimately boil down to whether his sports agent realistically believes he would get offered another contract. Gee has until June 21, 2016 to accept his player option, two days before the NBA draft.
Alonzo Gee can be categorized rather easily: He can jump out of the gym, his strength compares favorably with his peers and his athleticism allows him to stay with nearly all defensive assignments. Yet, he has proven time and again that his one liability -- shooting the rock -- can be awfully hard for the Pelicans to overcome, especially when forced to share the floor with another similarly deficient player like Omer Asik.
Stay tuned. We'll find out in less than two months time if he'll remain with the roster. It's conceivable that his inclusion could potentially cause Luke Babbitt to become a casualty or perhaps force the front office to overlook James Ennis...