Even with Gee, small forward needs improvement

Over his last 10 games, Alonzo Gee has arguably been playing the best basketball of his young career. His stat line includes an average of 12.2 points and 4.0 rebounds in 32.7 minutes of play each game. In his recent stretch, Gee has hit a game winning shot against the Atlanta Hawks, and on Twitter, NBA guru Zach Lowe pondered if Gee was “the most random/unknown nasty dunker in the NBA.” To the naked eye, small forward looks like a solid position for a team that is in need of good news in their recent ugly stretch.

However, if you look a little, you’ll see some problems with Gee as a player. Even though he has been playing solid basketball over the last ten games, he is only shooting 39.6 percent from the field. From, Gee is only shooting a horrendous 27.4 percent. Also, Gee (as the starting small forward) only accounts for 9.9 percent of the Cavaliers production, as compared to the league average of 18.3 percent overall production (per 82games.com). Now, those numbers are inflated by the fact that two of the NBA’s best players (i.e. LeBron James and Kevin Durant) play the small forward position. However, when you dig even deeper, you see sites like basketball-reference.com statistically comparing Gee to players like Gerald Henderson, Courtney Alexander and Von Wafer. Currently, Henderson plays sparingly for the woeful Bobcats, Alexander has been out of the league since 2002 and Wafer is currently without a job.

I’m not by any means saying that Gee should be cut; in fact I like Gee – just not as a starting small forward in the long term. As the Cavaliers continue rebuilding in the Kyrie Irving era, Gee is a guy I would like to keep long term as role player. He does provide some versatility on the wing, he has proven he can go on scoring spurts at times and is above average on defense, especially when playing on the ball. I truly do like Gee – just not as a starter.

Moving forward, small forward is my biggest concern position wise. It is a spot the Cavaliers chose not to address in the 2012 draft, and for good reason. Shooting guard was the worst position on the roster last season, and seeing how well Dion Waiters has played thus far, I am comfortable moving forward. Plus, I’ll take Tyler Zeller over a mid-level small forward in the draft any day of the week. In 2013, however, the Cavaliers must draft a small forward with their top pick. The problem is this – there may not be a top five available for Cleveland, assuming they end up picking that high again.

There are players, though, that Cavalier fans should keep an eye during this years NCAA season.

  1. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA – Muhammad is a bit undersized at 6-6, but if the Cavaliers do get the No. 1 overall pick, they should not hesitate to take him. It would not be ideal to play him at the three, but I think he could handle it. Plus, he gives the Cavaliers more diversity.
  2. Alex Poythress, Kentucky – This is the guy I think Cleveland is most likely to target. He is big and strong at 6-8, 239 pounds, but he does need some work. He is a prototypical power forward in the modern NBA, but can play the three.
  3.  Otto Porter, Georgetown – Porter is probably going to be drafted after the Cavaliers pick, but if they dramatically improve or trade back, he could be on their radar. At 6-8, 200 pounds, Porter has the right size for the NBA, but still is a little raw on the court.

Other names that could be floating out there are LeBryan Nash of Oklahoma State, T.J. Warren  of N.C. State and Croatian player Dario Saric. The overall point is that it is going to be hard for Chris Grant and his staff to find a small forward worth selecting at the top of the draft, which is where they are likely to be selecting. The same issue exists with the small forward position, as it is a pretty weak crop of talent. The best players available on the unrestricted free agent market are Tony Allen, Kyle Korver and Dorell Wright. The best of the restricted free agent bunch is Chase Budinger, who in my mind is the most intriguing option. Outside of this quartet, there really is not much out there.

This position will not be easy to fix – that much is clear. But it is a problem they need to address as soon as possible if they want to contend in the near future. In this NBA, the window of contention closes fast, and the Cavaliers would be doing themselves a disservice by not going after a new small forward now.

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