After naming Rob Kurz our D-League Most Improved Player of the Year, our little corner of the blogosphere (the RU contingent of me, Scott and Mike Gansey, Steve Weinman from D-League Digest, Matt Moore from D-League FanHouse and Matt Hubert from Blog Talk BayHawk) decided to hand out a few other awards. This time we're looking at Rookie of the Year, and our pick, Alonzo Gee of the Austin Toros (and now the San Antonio Spurs).
Alonzo Gee was Austin's first round draft pick in this year's D-League draft after playing for their NBA affiliate, the San Antonio Spurs, during last year's Summer League. The 6'6" shooting guard played 36 games for the Toros, averaging 21 points on 50.9 percent shooting, good for eighth in the league. He also shot 39.3 percent from outside and was fourth among guards in rebounding, averaging 8.3 per 48 minutes.
When previewing San Antonio's Summer League team, I wrote this about Gee:
Alonzo Gee (6'6" G) - Gee's outside and free-throw shooting both need a lot of work, though he's a decent slasher from the perimeter. He's also been called an unfocused defender, which won't exactly endear him to the Spurs. He's an explosive player and his turnovers decreased with each season at Alabama, but he's still a work in progress.
Gee is undoubtedly explosive, and a fairly efficient scorer as well. He can blow by defenders to get to the rim, and while he has some trouble shooting off the dribble, he's lights out when spotting up. Gee was named an All-Star this year and participated in the dunk contest, finishing second to Dar Tucker. As for how he's played this season, I'll let Scott take it:
For Austin, Alonzo Gee led the way. I'm going to be honest with you, I have been severely underrating his offense this season. For instance, did you know he's the fourth leading scorer (active) in the D-League with 21.0 points per game? Neither did I. I guess with all of the Dwayne Jones hype down in Austin, I forget about him. He goes hard to the rack, can finish with contact and, perhaps my favorite part of his game, is that sometimes when it looks like he's just going to lay something up he instead finds an extra gear and just soars for a dunk. Out of nowhere. Anyway, last night he scored 22 points on 14 shots, but turned the ball over five times and didn't really contribute elsewhere (either in the box score or on defense). Regardless, Gee has upside and it is ridiculous - as an energy guy that can score off the bench with the tools to improve on defense, I like him. I like him a lot.
Gee also made several appearances on our call-up rankings this season before finally being called-up by the Washington Wizards. He scored a pair of 10-day contracts with them and generally played well. As I wrote at the time (please ignore the headline):
Gee has an effective field goal percentage of 54.7, third on the current roster behind Mike Miller (no surprise there) and Fabricio Oberto (who rarely plays, so there might be some sample size issues with him). Gee's 55.5 True Shooting percentage also is third, behind the same two players. Gee is shooting an astronomical 83.3 percent on three-pointers, which is bound to come down, but it's nice to see him providing an outside threat for the team. His PER of 16.8 is second among guys on the active roster behind Andray Blatche. He has a higher rebound rate than both Blatche and JaVale McGee. So basically he's, you know, good.
Washington dragged their feet signing him for the rest of the season, so the Spurs snatched him back. While he hasn't played for them yet this year, if you tally up all of his D-League accomplishments he's had an excellent year.
Others considered: Gee's Austin teammate Curtis Jerrells also was considered for this award. Jerrells finished ninth in the league in scoring, just behind Gee, averaged 6.8 assists per 48 minutes and also was called-up by the Spurs. In the interest of disclosure I'll note that my own personal choice was Erie BayHawks center John Bryant, who finished eighth in the league in rebounding, averaging 15.4 boards per 48 minutes; 11th in blocks with 2.42 per 48 minutes; and third among centers in scoring with 13.4 points a game on 49.6 percent shooting while also playing pretty good defense.