March 23, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions (7) at the free throw line in the first quarter of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Two days ago, Ramon Sessions was beating down the doors of our hearts. Tonight, he's blasting through the Earth's atmosphere en route to the universal destination of his choice.
This is getting ridiculous.
In his first start as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Sessions didn't just help the Lakers win. He carried the team to victory. He had help (Andrew Bynum scored 28 points, Metta World Peace scored 14 on 8 shots), but in a game in which Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant (again) both struggled mightily from the field, Sessions made the Blazers suffer the wrath of a true point guard. He scored 8 points on 2 shots (and four free throws)!! He dished out six assists which generated another 13 points. And his most magical feat of all? In a close game in which Kobe Bryant struggled from the field after a hot shooting 1st quarter, Sessions had the wherewithal to spread the ball around instead of just deferring to Mr. Bryant like so many have done in the past. Kobe took just one shot in the 4th quarter (a long three pointer at the end of the shot clock). When was the last time that happened in a (relatively) close game in which the opponent was not actively doubling Mr. Mamba?
But seriously though, how good is Ramon Sessions? One has to believe he's not actually as good as he's shown over the past week, because Sessions' numbers have been ridiculous. Take tonight for example ... it's been nearly 15 years since a Laker guard not named Kobe Bryant put up 20 points, 11 assists and 6 boards in a single contest (Nick Van Exel pulled it off twice in 1997, and some dude named Earvin Johnson did it in 1996). Through five games, he's averaging 13.6 points and nearly seven assists. Those numbers have only been accomplished three times by a Laker guard in the past twenty years (twice by Van Exel, once by Sedale Threatt). And that's just in 27 minutes per contest. Extrapolate that out to the 36 minutes he played tonight and you get 18 points and nine assists per game. You know how many Laker guards have pulled off that feat since Magic last did it in 1990? Zero.
You know how many players are pulling in that kind of haul on a nightly basis in the NBA right now? Zero. Nobody. Not Chris Paul (who falls just short with 8.5 assists per contest). Not Tony Parker or Derrick Rose or Deron Williams (all average 8 assists per). Not Steve Nash or Rajon Rondo (both average double digit assists but fall well short in the scoring department). If Ramon Sessions were to keep up his current pace, he would literally be in a league of his own. And we're not done yet.
Prior to Ramon's arrival in Tinseltown, the Lakers already had three pretty great players. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum are all among the best at their respective positions. In fact, the Lakers were just one of two teams league wide that had three players with a PER higher than 20. The other is surprisingly not Miami (Chris Bosh didn't make the cut) but Oklahoma City, with James Harden as the third amigo behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Andrew Bynum leads the team with a 23 PER. Kobe Bryant (who spent much of the year prior to his recent shooting slump in the 24 range) is just behind him at 22.9. And Pau Gasol rounds out the team at 20.3. Guess what Ramon Sessions' PER is currently listed as on basketball-reference.com right now ... 23.7. And that's not including tonight's breakout performance.
Look, these numbers aren't real. They are the result of a miniscule sample size and a learning process in which teams literally just don't know how to defend a guy like Ramon Sessions as part of the whole that is the star-studded Lakers roster. And keep in mind, as great as Ramon has been, the Lakers are only 3-2 in those contests. Then again ... Kobe Bryant has shot 38% from the field over the Lakers' last five contests (including the game in Dallas, where he shot +60%) and the Lakers are 3-2 in those contests.
Eventually, Ramon Sessions will probably fall back down to earth just a bit and settle into a high level of production, but not an elite level. Until that happens however, Ramon's star will continue to blast through the atmosphere at roughly the same speed with which he turns the corner on the high pick and roll.