So, the trade deadline came and went.
The Lakers didn’t make the big move everyone thought they might do in shipping Pau Gasol out and tinkering with the lineup that won them two NBA titles. But, they made a very wise and shrewd move in picking up Ramon Sessions (along with Christian Eyenga) from the Cleveland Cavaliers for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, a first-round pick in the 2012 NBA draft and a little less than $1 million in cash. In order to shed some light on this solid pickup, I am going to give a brief rundown on this underappreciated player.
Sessions played for Nevada for three years before declaring for the NBA draft in 2007 and was selected in the second round (No. 56 overall) by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was regarded as a solid passer, but he wasn’t thought to be very athletic and there were questions about his ability to score in the NBA (as proven by his 12.3 points per game his junior year with the Wolf Pack).
But the Bucks had Mo Williams and Charlie Bell to play point guard and they weren’t really in need of another PG at the time. So, the Bucks made him the first ever NBA D-League player when they assigned him to the Tulsa 66ers where he excelled. He was called up to the Bucks in January of 2008 and began to slowly get some playing time with Milwaukee. Sessions had a game where he demonstrated his excellent passing and court vision by dishing out 24 assists in a single game versus the Chicago Bulls.
Despite playing well and averaging 11.6 points per game and six assists per game in 1 1/4 seasons with Milwaukee, the Bucks drafted Brandon Jennings in 2009 with the 10th overall pick. Seeing the writing on the wall, Sessions signed a four-year $16-million deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves a few months later. He came off the bench for the Wolves in 2009 because they drafted Jonny Flynn and wanted to start him ahead of Ramon, despite Sessions being the better shooter and being a ball-handler.
In July of 2010, he was traded along with Ryan Hollins for Sebastian Telfair and Delonte West. In 2011, he made 38 starts and played in all 82 games. Statistically speaking, he had a breakout season with 13.3 points per game and 5.2 assists per game while sinking 46.6% of his field goal attempts and 82.3% of his free throws in just 26.3 minutes per game.
However, Cleveland was in the unenviable position of reloading their team after the LeBron James “decision.” Cleveland decided to draft college phenom Kyrie Irving, who spent just one season at Duke where he played in just 11 games before sustaining a season ending injury.This season, Sessions played very well backing up Irving and filling in for him as a stater. He had 13 assists and another game where he had 16 assists, displaying a passing proficiency Irving has not. Trading for Sessions is a very solid one by Mitch Kupchak and will make the Lakers a very tough team to beat come playoff time.
Sessions made his Lakers debut on March 16 and looked pretty damn good in just 19 minutes of action off the bench. He made three of six field goal attempts for seven points, he handed out five assists, and grabbed four rebounds. Not great, but not too shabby for not knowing much of the offense. If Sessions can average 13 points and 7-8 assists he certainly gives the Lakers a much better option at PG than they had before the trade. And his first game in limited minutes show that is definitely a possibility. His per 36-minute stats this year average out to about 15 points and 7.6 assists. And Sessions is a huge upgrade defensively against the ultra-quick guards in the Western Conference.
Sessions is an unrestricted FA in the offseason, but winning will certainly play a factor in him picking up his player option and winning just got a whole lot more realistic for the Lakers.
Darren Jacks is a contributor to OneManFastBreak.net. Send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.