LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 16: Ramon Sessions #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers rives against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on March 16, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Based on numbers, everyone expected newly acquired point guard Ramon Sessions to be the best point guard on the Los Angeles Lakers roster. It took all of about 5 minutes of playing time to confirm that belief, right about the time Sessions kicked into an extra gear that hasn't existed around these parts since before the internet age.In 20 minutes, Sessions gave the Lakers 7 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists, a feat which was rightfully pointed out in the Credits as being something Derek Fisher and Steve Blake only managed once each over the past two seasons. In the same game, Steve Blake played nearly 30 minutes. He ran the floor effectively, with six assists and zero turnovers (Sessions did have three), but he did not score in 30 minutes. It's the fifth time this season he's failed to score, and he's played at least 20 minutes in every one of those contests.
The bottom line here is that there is no doubt who the Lakers primary point guard should be. Sessions might not even have known all his teammates names on Friday night, so quickly was he rushed through the process from trade to tip-off, and he already had a more effective game than the guy who's been here for two seasons. Ramon Sessions is just better than Steve Blake, significantly so, and you can expect the minutes played ratio between the two to be in favor of Sessions, perhaps heavily. All of which might make my request, and the title of this post, seem a little strange.
Keep Ramon Sessions on the bench.
The Lakers bench has been terrible at many times this season, giving up big leads, giving minutes to ineffective players. The Lakers depth has been an issue all season, and when three or four members see the court at the same time, it can spell trouble for the Lakers' chances in a particular contest. Meanwhile, even when stuck with one or two anchors (depending on how the point guard and small forward du jour are playing that evening), the starting lineup has been one of the best in the league. That's what happens when you have Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol on the court at the same time. Sessions can improve that starting lineup, but not significantly. The ball will still find itself in Kobe's hands, or be sent in to the post for Drew and Gasol the vast majority of the time.
The bench unit on the other hand? If last night is any indication, Sessions doesn't just improve the bench unit, he transforms it. The effect Sessions had on Matt Barnes alone was incredible, and while we all know Barnes won't keep shooting like he did Friday night, the fact remains that Barnes is a player aching to get out and run. Sessions finally gives him the ability to do so. Sessions also fits in nicely with the third big man off the bench, whether it's Troy Murphy as a pick and pop partner in the half court set, or Josh McRoberts (and soon, Jordan Hill) as an energy guy finishing on the break the same way Barnes does.
And most importantly, as a perimeter creator, Sessions needs to play every second that Kobe Bryant doesn't play. I'm not saying the two can't play together. I'm sure they can, and I'm sure they will. But Sessions and Bryant need to be managed as back court contributors in the exact same way that Gasol and Bynum are. If the Lakers can have one backcourt creator and one All-Star quality post presence on the court at all times, they become significantly less prone to the type of lapses in quality we've been experiencing all season long.
By seasons end, Ramon Sessions will certainly be receiving the lion's share of the minutes at point guard. He's a good player, much better than any other option the Lakers have had for a very long time. But the team needs him most at times he wouldn't necessarily be playing in the normal rotation for a team's starting player. Sessions makes players like Matt Barnes and Troy Murphy or Jordan Hill significantly better. He's in his element when he's the primary playmaker on the court. There is a way to ensure that the majority of his minutes check all those boxes. Keep Sessions coming off the bench, and he'll make the Lakers a much better team.