I remember when Ramon Sessions left the Milwaukee Bucks after signing an offer sheet with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Bucks, to my surprise, declined to match. Coming off a 34-win season under then-new coach Scott Skiles (this was an improvement, mind you), Milwaukee was showing the very early signs of something positive; though, the way the Bucks had been in recent years, positivity was a single blade of grass growing between slabs of concrete. In my mind though, Sessions was an integral part in keeping this team moving ever-so-slowly forward. His numbers in his second, and ultimately only, full season with the Bucks were modest – 12 points, almost 6 assists and a steal per night, but you figured those could have been impacted by playing with the likes of both Charlie(s) Bell and Villanueva, Keith Bogans and Malik Allen, to name a few.
During his rookie campaign, where he only played in 17 games with Milwaukee, Sessions made his big splash in light of an absurd 151-135 Bulls victory (imagine either of those teams surrendering points like that now), where he dished 24 assists, scored 20 and grabbed 8 boards for a Rondo-like stat line. Not everyone can fall into numbers like that for a game; his penchant for finding open teammates in scoring positions was just his way of running things on a nightly basis. It wasn’t a rookie trying to fit in as much as it was an addiction, fueling his game to be played in this manner (because, remember, some of those guys really should not have been passed to).
During that second year in Milwaukee, Sessions would go on to score 44 one night, with 12 assists, again in a high-scoring loss. Later that season he notched his first triple-double (16 pts., 10 rebs., 16 assists) against the Lakers in yes, another loss. Maybe Sessions left because he didn’t want to see his premier nights wasted, but since Minnesota was no prize destination at the time either, he probably just wanted to be sure he was properly compensated for his efforts.
As the gleam of being a young upstart wore off, Sessions faded into the NBA backdrop; playing fewer minutes to make room for rookie Jonny Flynn (!) — the Timberwolves’ 15-67 season aided this, too — his numbers and notoriety predictably dipped. The summer following that season, Sessions officially became part of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ post-LeBron resuscitation, landing with them in their Get Delonte West Out of Here trade. It was probably the breath of fresh air needed — his numbers with the Cavs mostly went a tick higher than in his one full year with the Bucks — though, of course, the wins still weren’t showing up too frequently.
The rebuilding effort led to a shocking taste of good fortune for Cleveland when they landed the number one pick in the NBA draft, and even more-so when they selected Kyrie Irving, the mysterious Duke point man who has shattered all expectations, becoming possibly the Rookie of the Year and franchise player for the Cavaliers going forward. Which brings us to the trade deadline of exactly a week ago: The Cavs, with Irving cemented as the present and future, flipped Sessions to the Los Angeles Lakers for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono and a draft pick.
Now Sessions, especially after last night’s destruction of the Dallas Mavericks, where practically every Laker went off, can finally showcase his skills on one of the NBA’s main stages. His 17 point and 9 assist effort was arguably his best game thus far in Los Angeles, but his impact coming off the bench (for now) can already be seen.
It helps, in that sense, to be replacing Derek Fisher, as jokes about the Lakers being unsure of how to react to this new-fangled take on point-guarding are running rampant, but really all Sessions needed, what he hasn’t experienced until now, was a chance to play with a good basketball team. How coach Mike Brown utilizes him, and if the Lakers’ Old Guard of Kobe and Pau defer to and trust his playmaking abilities will be further determined as they get used to one another, but Sessions’ skills are there like they always have been.
And his impact, because of what the Lakers already were with virtually no threat at the point guard position, has the chance to manifest into something championship-caliber. To really be taken seriously this season, the Lakers simply needed an upgrade; in Sessions, who will finally get to take his talents to the mainstream, they may have gotten even more than they thought.
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.