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Ramon Sessions: To understand the future, we must look to the past

The former 26th pick in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft has had anything but an ordinary ride in the NBA so far. Sessions started his career in Milwaukee, and if not for the Bucks taking a flyer on him, who knows if Ramon would have actually gotten his chance in this league as he has. He’s been everything from a low-usage reserve to the starting point guard of the most storied NBA franchise in history (L.A. Lakers) during a championship hunt. After five seasons of proving his worth to this league Sessions now finds himself as the presumed backup point guard to an unproven second year player (Kemba) on a team that just got finished setting the all-time record for highest losing percentage in a season. So, is this a crossroads for Sessions, or is it simply just another opportunity to prove himself?

Sessions second year in Milwaukee is when he started to open people’s eyes to his talent and how it translated to the NBA. A 12.4 PPG & 5.7 APG total for the year told most what they needed to know- Sessions was a serviceable guard with good size (6’3) and an ability to be multi-dimensional with the basketball. In his second season, Ramon had more assists (452) than any other season in his career to this point- this suggest that he was trying to make more of an effort to be a true point guard early in his career. I know what you might be thinking- this was more a result of him passing on his shot because of tentativeness early in his career but that proves not to be true as Sessions attempted just one less shot (775) than his career season high (776). Keep these stats in mind.

Now, let’s fast-forward to 2010-11 season in Cleveland. The 08-09 and 10-11 seasons are almost identical in minutes played (08-09: 2,173 — 10-11: 2,133), slightly different in assist total (08-09: 452 — 10-11: 419) and almost 100 points apart in total points scored for the two seasons (08-09: 977 — 10-11: 1075). The point total increase in 10-11 is certainly noticeable, but where does it come from? Sessions only took 1 more shot in 10-11 opposed to 08-09, but he attempted 69 more free throws in 10-11. Ah ha, that’s the stat we were looking for and for more reason than one. For starters, the increase in FTA explains the total point increase, and secondly, it tells us that Sessions figured out where his strength was- using his height to score over smaller guards by attacking the basket more often. Hence, 69 more FTA.

Stay with me, we’re going to move to this past season in Los Angeles where Sessions was called upon at the trade deadline to be the point guard upgrade the Lakers needed in order to make a run at the title. In 23 regular season games it looked like the Lakers had struck gold by dealing for Sessions- 12.7 PPG, 6.2 APG & 48% from the field. The 12 playoff games were a totally different story and left much to be desired- 9.7 PPG, 3.6 APG & 37.7% from the field. Is Sessions playoff disappearance the reason LAL gave up on him (Technically, he could have stayed because of his player option, but he read the writing on the wall)? Well, initially, quite possibly. I’d lean more towards the belief that Jerry Buss knew he’d be landing Steve Nash far before it happened.

All that aside, Ramon Sessions became a free agent at the end of the season and that’s when the Bobcats came calling. Now, for a guy who was the starting point guard for the Lakers at the end of last season and was one of the hottest in the western conference for his position in 23 regular season games in L.A. now has become the presumed backup to second year Kemba Walker. You can look at that one of two ways- 1) Sessions career has come to a crossroads and he’s back to square one trying to prove himself as a true starter in this league; Or, 2) Dunlap sees the natural scoring ability that Sessions has and is electing to use him more of a combo guard opposed to a true PG- and that would correlate directly with what Sessions learned midway through his NBA career in 10-11 in Cleveland- he’s a guard with a height advantage and must use that ability to attack the basket against smaller defenders more often.

Is Sessions a PG or more of a SG? Anyone could debate the topic, but he’ll undoubtably be used as both in Charlotte. He’s going to be a guy that will take on a large scoring role with the Bobcats and has a great chance to potentially be one of the leading scorers on this team.

Just when it seemed as if this late second round pick’s career was taking off last season, many will now view Sessions as simply being back at square one. To me, it’s simply an opportunity for him to reinvent himself as a player in this league- that not only is he a PG, but he’s also an extremely capable scorer in more ways than one. Sessions can use Charlotte as a place to define himself as a player moving into the middle years of his career and should help this young team make the necessary steps in improvement during the next two seasons.

Statistics for this post were derived from the NBA.com stats tool.