Flashback to December 29th, 2012. The Cavaliers are on the road facing the Brooklyn Nets. Down 92-81, C.J. Miles has just fouled Reggie Evans after missing a trey on the previous possession. Though down-trodden over recent events, Miles has 25 points on 9 of 13 shooting, mostly from downtown where he is 6 for 8 thus far in the contest. After Reggie Evans sinks both from the line, C.J. Miles knows exactly what to do. He immediately looses a three-ball on the next position to cut the lead to single digits. Off of a Nets timeout, Miles forces Gerald Wallace into a could, hitting both from the charity stripe to make it 94-86. The next possession is a fast break started by a Kyrie Irving board and ending with Kyrie finding C.J. Miles stepping into another long ball; he is now 8-10 from three and has a team-high 33.
In the previous month of November, however, C.J. Miles was struggling. Shooting less than 30% percent from the field, C.J. Miles was not proving much as the new signee for the Cleveland Cavaliers organization. Previously, his career at Utah was up and down. After spending his first three years getting acquainted to the league, Miles in his fourth year started in all 72 games he played, averaging career highs in almost every category. The next year, Miles would only start in 28 of his 63 appearances, but was still improving in most statistical categories. the 2010-11 campaign saw the most improvement statistically, with Miles scoring in the double digits for the first time, averaging 12.8 per outing. The next season, Miles would only start 14 games in one of his worst shooting campaigns, averaging under 40% from the floor and barely reaching the 30% mark from three-point land.
February 9th, 2013. The Cleveland Cavaliers have called a timeout at the 5:58 mark in the first quarter. The visiting Nuggets jumped out to an 8-0 to start the game. Then, Alonzo Gee got serious. Scoring 15 of the Cavaliers next 17 points, Alonzo Gee had no concerns except owning the lead; he would go on to finish the game with 20 points on 8-8 shooting, including 3-3 from the behind the arc in the midst of his early game scoring barrage.
To contrast, Gee had 9 games this past season where he hit only one bucket or less.
The inconsistency of the small-forward position in Cleveland is apparent when looking at the performances of both Gee and Miles. They are very contrasting players, with Gee having a defensive approach while Miles sees scoring has his success for the team.
Now adding #1 overall Anthony Bennett and Earl Clark, the small-forward position for the Cavaliers is a mystery.
Both Bennett and Clark are classified as power-forwards with their height and length, but are speculated to both spend time at the 3 position. Miles is traditionally a shooting guard, but played most of his minutes at the 3 last year in Cleveland. This makes Alonzo Gee the only “legitimate” small-forward battling for minutes.
The position is an intriguing one, and I believe will also be a dynamic threat for the Cavaliers franchise in the upcoming season.
With Bennett and Clark able to transpose between the two forward positions and Miles being able to play the 2, Gee might come out the starter. This does not mean he will own the spot, and he will have to prove himself on the court with consistent play. He will also undoubtedly share minutes with the three afore mentioned players.
Another scenario, and one I will see benefiting the Cavs, will be to play Bennett primarily at the 3, sharing minutes with Gee or Clark. They are both defensive threats toothier teams wingmen and will battle for the load of minutes alongside Bennett. Miles would play the majority of his minutes of the 2 in this situation, sharing the scoring load with Dion Waiters, though, I don’t see Dion giving up any easy minutes. I see Miles as more of a defensive liability than the younger Dion, who still has time to mature on the defensive end. I think this is the year Miles finds himself out of place in Cleveland. What the Cavaliers find in Miles I think they will get in a more efficient manner with new draft-pick Sergey Karasev, especially at the 3. Sergey is a pure shooter at 6 foot 8. At 19, scouts are very impressed with his range and consistency. His highlights show off a quick jump shot and the ability to attack off the dribble some. He seems to be a smarter player than Miles, and someone that won’t force shots as Miles has sometimes done.
Whatever outcome occurs, the Cavaliers have quite the dynamic forward composition that I think will benefit Cleveland not only with depth, but competitiveness and flexibility within the system.