As the NBA and the Lakers near their last game of the 2011-12 season, the fans can see that the Lakers have been tested throughout the year. It was a shortened season, yet it feels as if it has been one of the longest seasons mentally for the players, organization and fans.
Some questions still remain intact concerning the team from this point last year. However, one question has been answered, at least for now. I am talking about the point guard weakness that surrounded the Lakers for the majority of the season. It took until the closing hours of the NBA trade deadline for management to pull the trigger, but the team got what they so desperately needed.
Losing Derek Fisher was gut wrenching, and it stills doesn’t seem right to see him in another color other than purple and gold, but the trade was done for the team and their quest to win title number seventeen. The addition of Ramon Sessions was the right trade, and Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss get high marks for making the deal.
Sessions has played 22 games for the Lakers thus far, 16 as a starter. He has been a major upgrade in the point position and has rejuvenated the Lakers backcourt. Sessions brings speed and clever passing to the team and he has begun to develop a pretty nice pick-and- roll game, especially with Pau Gasol.
During his time with the Lakers, Sessions is averaging 12.6 points, 6.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 30.6 minutes. He is shooting 48 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line, which is something he worked on during the previous off-season.
Sessions seems to be thriving in L.A., especially being backed by the fans.
“These fans really believe in me in this place and they really know basketball. They’ve seen the greatest of greats come through here. It’s unreal. In my whole career, it’s never been like this, being noticed. You’re on ESPN every night or TNT. You’re with Kobe Bryant out there in the backcourt.”
Sessions has a player option for $4.6 million next season, but it is expected that he will decline his option and become an unrestricted free agent. Now, he doesn’t want out of Los Angeles. Sessions’ purpose for doing this is to work out a multi-year deal with the Lakers and remain in purple and gold for years to come.
“I want to be here. I don’t know what that means or how that’s going to happen. It ain’t no secret. I’ll tell anybody that. I tell [Lakers General Manager] Mitch Kupchak. I tell my agent. I want to be here. Period. For a long time.”
“He’s given this team a big lift,” Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. “You see and you feel some leadership capabilities within him. That’s something that at that point-guard position, if he can get comfortable doing it, which I think he very well can, it can help out this organization for a long, long time.”
However, Sessions has seemed to take a step back during the past week or so. Sessions is battling a sprained left shoulder, but being the professional he is, doesn’t blame his injury for his less than exciting performances of late. In his last four games he has averaged 8.0 points, 3.3 dimes and 3.8 rebounds per game on 40 percent field goal shooting.
The next phase of the Lakers’ season is the playoffs, which start this weekend. Sessions has no playoff experience in his five-year NBA career. Sessions, along with the rest of the team, will need to step up their performance and approach in order to once again reach the Finals.
Sessions’ post-season performance will not only impact the team’s chances at a title, but it may also determine what his contract would look like in the future.