With Ramon Sessions, the Lakers are no longer weak at the point guard position. Photo by Ken Brooks.
Sessions has put up better numbers than Fisher and Blake combined.
If Laker fans still love Derek Fisher, they should be head over heels for point guard Ramon Sessions at this point. His explosive quickness and ability to penetrate are reminiscent of opposing point guards who, over the years, have blown past slower Laker guards at will. His confidence, competitiveness and overall youthful traits at the position have long been missing in the purple and gold. His aggression and instincts answer some concerns about the Lakers’ recent past and ignites optimism for the future.
And then there are the numbers, and they don’t lie. In 15 games (11 starts) as a Laker, Sessions has averaged 25 percent more points than both recently traded Fisher and Steve Blake combined. He also averages more assists and rebounds than both players combined. Compared to their combined 37 percent shooting, he has made over 51 percent of his field goals and an even higher percentage, if you can believe it, from the 3-point line.
It comes down to skill and confidence. Sessions has seamlessly exploited both since joining the Lakers with a mindset to make a difference.
“I knew they would give me a chance to play right away,” Sessions said. “I just wanted to show I was ready for the job.“
So far there are no apparent surprises or signs of unexpected growing pains. And if he appears unfazed by the typical Laker pressure that has plagued past newcomers, it’s because he isn’t.
“Not at all,” Sessions said. “This is a great organization with great players, so there is no excuse for a player to come here and not be able to perform.”
The pro basketball world was shocked when the Dallas Mavericks received Lamar Odom from the Lakers for essentially nothing in light of his achievements as the 2011 best sixth man. But with Odom’s lack of motivation and recent deactivation, who would have guessed that the Lakers would end up with an even better something-for-nothing deal.
Namely, that deal was the long overdue and merciful dumping of useless Luke Walton and Jason Kapono to acquire Sessions. As his success has unfolded, the trade has blossomed into the best one conducted just before the NBA deadline. It is also the best Laker trade since Pau Gasol arrived in L.A. as part of the deal that moved Kwame Brown to the Memphis Grizzlies. Trevor Ariza for Brian Cook is definitely in the conversation.
Obviously only time will reveal the long-term benefits of the trade, but apparently fans have every reason to revel in the early results. History proves that it has been difficult for even celebrated incoming veterans to maintain their production levels or to have an immediate impact on a Laker team. Say nothing about fitting into a roster with three all-stars including Kobe Bryant. Yet Sessions has hardly blinked since becoming the new kid on the block and is producing admirably with a minute amount of practice under his belt.
Bryant credits Session for having a high basketball I.Q. and says that his reads, passing, scoring and playmaking skills disables opposing teams’ ability to game plan against the Lakers. Sessions also looks forward to each match up against opposing guards and takes it on as a personal challenge. That competitiveness is a needed complement to Bryant‘s.
No one could have imagined that it would take until 2012 for Fisher to permanently relinquish a position he inherited from Nick Van Exel in the late ‘90s. Ironically, Van Exel was the last dynamic and versatile point guard that the Lakers have had before Sessions arrived. Among the benefits he brings, Sessions is clearly more aggressive than Fisher, clearly more generous than Van Exel, and thus far more efficient than both.
Yet Sessions is hesitant about being compared to Fisher and what he meant to Laker fans. When asked about assuming the role he responded, “I‘m not here to fill that void. He probably has more championship rings than I have fingers on one hand.” Sessions also addressed what it meant to be coveted by an organization of the Lakers caliber by saying, “This is a dream come true. The organization believed in me, the fans believed in me, and the players believed in me. And that has made the transition that much easier.”
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