Lakers/Blazers: (Insert Your Sessions-Themed Title Here)

Darius Soriano —  March 23, 2012

It’s really this simple: Ramon Sessions is a difference maker.

He’s not the best player on the Lakers, nor is he the most important. But he’s the guy who’s providing exactly what this team needs, and in his first start of the year, he proved that he can fill in the gaps and supply what’s needed to help the Lakers.

Tonight he had 20 points, 11 assists (with only 3 turnovers), and 6 rebounds. His speed and quickness were key elements in the open court and his savvy and command as a floor general were equally as important in the half court. He was able to get to the rim, hit his outside shot, pick out teammates on time with on-target passes, and run the show the entire time he was on the floor.

One possession stood out to me the most, though. Kobe had just taken a long contested jumper against the shot clock, but the long rebound was tipped back and the Lakers got another possession. Sessions secured the ball, held it near mid-court and the camera zoomed in on a close up. He then signaled for a play, directed Kobe to the weak side and calmly entered the ball into Gasol. After Pau surveyed the floor, the ball was kicked out, then swung around the perimeter until it ended up in Ron’s hands. Ron dribbled to his right and took an in-rhythm foul line jumper that he buried. The Lakers’ lead was six and the game was essentially over.

This play was both minor and major at the same time. In only his 5th game of the season and his 1st start, Sessions took the reins of the Lakers’ offense, decided what he wanted to run, and it produced a basket. The Lakers didn’t have to go to Kobe. Didn’t have to run a screen heavy action or an isolation. They went inside, moved the ball, and a player that isn’t a member of the big three took and hit the shot. We’ve not seen this all year, but it seemed so natural.

And this is what Sessions represents now — he represents possibility.

The Lakers will still be a team that depends on their big three. Bynum scored 28 points tonight on his typical display of brute strength and touch around the basket. Kobe didn’t shoot well but his final line of 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists showed his impact. The same is true of Gasol, who struggled with his hook around the hoop and with the range on his jumper, but still pulled down 16 rebounds and tallied 6 assists.

But the Lakers now have another weapon. Sessions earned eight trips to the foul line. He picked out Barnes on a multitude of cuts and dished to Ron when he sealed his man on the block. He involved McRoberts in P&Rs and drove and kicked to Blake on the wing. He found a way to involve his teammates while still getting his own.

He made a difference.

The Lakers aren’t a new team. Not yet. They struggled to defeat a Blazer team that was blown up a week ago. They didn’t defend the three-point line as well as they could have, and gave up too many open jumpers to LaMarcus Aldridge.

But you can see the promise with this group. The path to being a better team was seemingly drawn in invisible ink, and with Sessions on board the lines are now starting to reveal themselves. Watching the Lakers is becoming more fun, just as you can tell that the players are having more fun when on the court.

After the game Mike Brown said, “I think we can get a lot better than we are now, which is exciting.” I think we can all agree with that.

Darius Soriano

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118 responses to Lakers/Blazers: (Insert Your Sessions-Themed Title Here)

  1. Sessions turns this team from a top 10 to a top 5. Lakers were last in NBA in fast break points and their two guards were last in the NBA in assists.

    RS just surpassed both Fisher and Blake on the year I think. When was the last time our PG had 11 assists? Maybe the Magic years.

    Just keep Blake off the floor and we can get to the Western Finals now!

  2. Just posted this in the previous thread but deleted it when I saw your game recap up, Darius:

    I thought most of Kobe’s shots were taken within the framework of the offense. A couple were rushed heaves to beat the shot clock. He simply missed some shots that he should make, and deferred to Sessions. I understand MB wanting to maximize the minutes Kobe and Sessions play together by starting Ramon, but the other side of the coin is that it minimizes the minutes Sessions and Barnes play together. Those two are a perfect match in that Barnes moves extremely well without the ball and Sessions (unlike Blake) is very good at finding the open man, even when he’s not being aggressive himself. Great pass to MWP for the lefty layup (for which Bynum was awarded the assist) and some great feeds to Pau.

    In addition, Sessions recognizes mismatches in the team’s favor the second they appear (again, neither Blake nor Fisher is effective at this). His facilitating/play calling frequently resulted in mismatches whereby Portland was forced to guard a big with a small. This is another positive factor in having a true point guard on your team. Man, watching Laker games is really, really fun again

  3. As a fan, I’m just happy to see that the Lakers finally have a PG they can have genuine optimism on for the present, and the future. He just gives this team an added dimension, and what I like the most about him is he has the ‘balls’ to really be a leader (as what PG’s should be). You never see him deferring to Kobe, or looking for his approval. He sees the floor and sees Kobe as one of the options, rather than just dumping it to him and getting out of the way. Like Darius said in the recap, he found ways to get MWP, Barnes and McRob involved and them getting baskets makes them work harder on defense and frees up our big three a little bit more.

    There was another instance that you would never see with Blake or Fisher. I think it was sometime in the 4th quarter, Sessions ran a high PnR with Pau, tried to drive right, stopped to let the defense collapse on the cutting Pau, faked a right wing pass to Kobe, then swung the ball to the opposite wing to find a free MWP for a wide open 3!

  4. “There was another instance that you would never see with Blake or Fisher. I think it was sometime in the 4th quarter, Sessions ran a high PnR.”

    Fixed that for you ;)

  5. I think there was a moment in the fourth quarter where the light bulb went on for Kobe “hey… This isn’t fisher, fox, and Horry. These guys can actually start their own offense.”. It hit him and I don’t think we will be having the same Kobe “ISO” Bryant we have seen for much of his career. I just have this feeling. He has discovered “The Secret”.

  6. And Darius hit the most important point to remember…. Ramon is a average NBA starting PG. that happens to mean now in today’s NBA he is pretty darn good. But he might have been the missing piece to this puzzle. We don’t know for sure… But it’s pretty exciting to be a Lakers fan right now :)

  7. “There was another instance that you would never see with Blake or Fisher. I think it was sometime in the 4th quarter, Sessions ran”

    Fixed that for you :)

    “Man, watching Laker games is really, really fun again”

    Dude I couldn’t agree more. Before Sessions hope was dying and every game = banging your head against the wall, so frustrating. Now it’s so exciting. I expected pg play to improve, but I had no idea Sessions would be this fun to watch and this good. His speed and athleticism and change of pace is sensational, but his decision-making and command of the offense is a pure basketball lovers dream.

    Happy for Fish to get crunch time minutes.

    I believe in Blake. He’ll get his mojo back. He’s a winner.

    I don’t mind sessions starting, but if he starts I would like to see Kobe playing when Sessions goes to the bench. We need a big man and a ballhandler on the floor at all times. When Bynum was the only shot creator in the second quarter the offense got stagnant and he had to force things.

    Was it me or does Pau seem to be playing with an athleticism that was missing last year’s playoffs. I don’t know if it was injury, or if he has more energy saved up as not having to create his own shot as much but hopefully he can get back to the dominant offensive rebounder that he was during those championship runs. He just seems to be more swift, aggressive, and more confident on the court these days than I remember him being last year.

  8. Aaron, I think you may be a right in that overall Sessions is an average NBA point guard, since the quality of the point guards in the league now are so good. However, in terms of being a pure point I would rank him high. A lot of guys can score and get assists but not a lot of guys can do those things while controlling a game and managing a flow.

  9. It’s all about having the right parts of the team. He’s a decent PG and he’s not in the caliber of a Nash, Parker, Deron, Rose, or CP3. But what he is… is the perfect complement. He’s just what the Lakers NEED. Not necessarily an All-Star; just the right piece.

  10. Lakers big 3 gives Sessions room to operate like he said. While Sessions makes it easier for everyone on the floor. His efficiency is off the charts I don’t think he’s made a mistake yet.

    2nd straight game opposition didn’t get double digit offensive rebounds.

    I’m not a fan of Mike Brown playing Sessions whole quarters on tail end of games. Last 16 mins vs DAL, last 12 vs POR. But that shows you how much he trusts Blake to run the PG at crucial times.

  11. We all need to share in Ram Session euphoria tonight, saving our quibbles and worries for the future. Ram clearly opens up new opportunities for the team, and headaches for Laker opponents.

    The responses of the Kobester, during and after this Portland game, reminded me of the first game Gasol played as a Laker: Kobe scored 6, Gasol was fantastic, and the Lakers won. Kobe couldn’t hide his smile. . . .

    The rest is history.

  12. And I was not joking when I said I believed Kobe finally discovered in the end of the third and entire fourth quarter what Bill Simmons calls “The Secret”. When elite players realize how to make their teammates better besides the usual attraction of help defenders. I think Kobe had a moment of clarity. He realized he was playing with four other offensive weapons at the same time for the first time as a Laker. Yes in All Star games and national team contests he has briefly played on a flowing offensive team… But never in the NBA as a Laker. It hit him tonight guys, I have a feeling. And soon we are going to hit the rest of the league.

    As you know I think James has been the best player in the NBA. And he has been. Until now. It’s Kobe from tonight on. He has taken his last step.

  13. Frank the Tank March 24, 2012 at 2:04 am

    This team really has potential to be amazing. As stated before, it’s a very exciting time to be a Laker fan.

  14. Kobe was smart enough to get out of the way last night. I thought he got a very poor whistle from crew chief Bill Kennedy and his cohort Tommy Nunez, Jr.

    MWP is playing like he doesn’t want to be known as the weak link on the team any longer. Metta and Matt are creating a very serviceable two-headed small forward.

    Ramon has real leadership skills on the court. He will seek out the right play. His presence has allowed the Lakers to emerge from the Jurassic Triangle Era.

    This is turning into a season filled with possibilities.

  15. I think the Lakers got too cute a little too early after opening up that double digit lead. It seemed they expected to keep widening that gap instead of putting in the full effort to blow the Blazers out early. But they tried to make the right play pretty much throughout the game so not too much to complain about this win.

    I think Darius’s point in the second-to-last paragraph is especially important. I really like how the players interact on the court and in game breaks now. It seems they go out of their way to encourage each other, you can see Kobe giving pointers to everybody as far as on-court adjustments are concerned. Players competing for minutes (MWP – Barnes/Bynum – Gasol – McRoberts) appear to be pretty comfortable in their roles and seem genuinly happy for each other.

    With the final push of the regular season around the corner, it’s like the team is coming together and recognizes the weapons and possibilities it has.

    I also liked how Brown used McRoberts tonight, there will be games where his effort (especially on the offensive boards) will bring a few important extra possessions. With Sessions’ added offensive skills alongside the big three, it looks like McRoberts will be the permanent 3rd big as far as minutes are concerned, with Murphy and maybe Hill getting the scraps depending on match-ups.

  16. Kobe is a veteran that played in a system that earned him championships with a triangle pg in Fisher (triangle). But, let’s not pretend that if Kobe thought he could earn championships playing with a guard like Ramon Sessions since entering the league, that he wouldn’t choose Ramon 10 out of 10 times.

    I wouldn’t say that Kobe is deferring to Sessions, as much as I’d say that Kobe is figuring out who Sessions is as a player. Will he be able to count on him in a run for a championship?

    Kobe is an old school player, he had to earn the respect of Lakers fans by coming up big in the playoffs and in championship games. If we as fans of the Lakers were content with regular season accomplishments we’d be happy hanging Western Conference banners. But we’re not! Pau joined the team and had a very successful regular season with the Lakers. He entered the playoffs and continued to play well… until he played Kevin Garnett and the Lakers lost the championship.

    We can only hope that Ramon is ready to take the Lakers all the way to the championship in his first year as a starter. There’s something in the way that Sessions is handling the trade to the Lakers that leads me to believe that the Lakers have made another legendary acquisition. We just may look back at this trade like the Kareem, Shaq, Kobe and James Worthy trade.

    Darius captured the single most important thing that transpired in the game tonight. In that one play where Ramon waved Kobe from the strong side of the ball to pass it to Gasol. That’s the sort of pg the Lakers have needed for at least the last five years.

    This team is starting to believe.

    No one wants to see the Lakers in the playoffs.

    Off topic: Fisher played 36 mins in a game for his new team and went 2/11. Westbrook and Durant scored more than 40 points in a 149-140 win over The Timberwolves. Sportscasters were saying that Fisher is playing pg with Westbrook as the two guard, Harden small forward, Durant power forward and Ibaka at center.

    That my friends is an interesting lineup.

  17. Warren Wee Lim March 24, 2012 at 3:18 am

    I think I should unretire for a bit… I noticed that Ken and Aaron has shifted the bashing to Steve Blake :D

    Anyways, its nice to have a PG. Its nice to know that an offense can actually start without having Kobe initiate it. You forget that the Lakers’ real PG was Lamar Odom in years past. The deal at seasons’ start actually showed how much more we needed a PG. I think getting Sessions for Luke + 1st + w/e is a grandslam deal over a Bynum ++++ for Dwight.

    I endorsed the Lakers doing something to get better at PG while sacrificing minimal assets, but it seems to me Mitch has impressed me more than I expected him to.

    PS. I hope Kobe’s minutes will be cut down to something like 34mpg… but the Lakers need to show that they can blow teams out of the water so Kobe would have “towel time” at the 4th. I know he’s a machine, but still… we need that machine in the playoffs.

  18. @6, 8, 9 – Regarding Sessions being an average NBA point guard. He may have been one before, but with Kobe, Pau, Bynum, MWP, and Barnes as his running mates, he’s in the top tier now. His PER in five games with the Lakers is now 25.7, which would be second among all PGs behind Chris Paul’s 26.34 (and ahead of Rose’s 24.85 and Westbrook’s 23.61). Not only that, but his PER has been increasing with his increased playing time, something that only happens when a player is well above average. After three games with the team it was 19.8, when his minutes were averaging in the low to mid-20s. After his great Dallas game (he played 29 minutes) it went up to 23.7, and now it’s increased to 25.7 (he played 35 1/2 minutes vs Portland).

    So I’m going to have to disagree with you guys. I think Ramon Sessions is one of the ten best PGs in the league. He just never had so any great teammates before.

  19. Some burning questions going forward for our Laker squad:

    1) How does the presence (and production of Sessions) affect (positively or negatively) the stats of the other Lakers? from just mere observation Pau and Drew are getting easier and cleaner looks from their ‘sweet spots’, Metta and Barnes are benefiting from Sessions’ penetrations and getting wide open looks from 3, and Kobe is now getting the ball near his spots and doesn’t have to fight for position to get there and facing less double teams. It would be nice if someone made a quantitative analysis after about 10 games. My educated guess is Pau, MWP, and Barnes’ FG% and ppg ave will improve. Kobe’s assists and TO’s will go down, and whatever was left of Blake, and Goudelock’s FG attempts now goes to Ramon.

    2) I don’t want to really get ahead too much nor be a buzzkil, but this issue will surely come upon the team and Ramon. I believe that Sessions has zero playoff games under his belt, aside from not being under the ‘bright lights’ of the media and other teams scouting reports his previous 3 (4?!) seasons in the league (although in his first five games, he looks to be embracing the spotlight). Being the floor general of a championship aspiring franchise, he will still be a big question mark going into the playoffs. Will he fold or will he succeed? How will he handle a seven game series? matchups and opponents being more ready for him? I’m as hopeful as anyone here for him and the Lakers to succeed don’t get me wrong…

    Any thoughts Darius or any opinions from our good Laker fans?

  20. Wherever Ramon may rank in the NBA, he’s been our best point guard in a decade… not that he’s had serious competition for that title as it was mostly Fisher and Smush.

    We’ll have to wait and see though. Linsanity lasted a week. Ram Session has the potential to last longer, especially since Bynum, Gasol and Kobe aren’t exactly Chandler, Amare and Carmelo, but we’ll have to see.

  21. I had memories of Sessions being a good promise for a while but I hadn’t heard much of him for a while and was shocked that Lakers could acquire him.
    After this games you can tell that he is really good and a perfect fit that makes the Lakers completly real.
    Besides, I would be very surprised if his numbers and energy (and PER) don’t regress a litle, to something like 12,8.
    Still I belive his playmaking and influence on the flow of the team will remain, he may even become a better defender.
    Of course if he maintains this level or similar (probable), the team keeps messing(probable), Artest shoots fine (who knows) and kobe plays team first(completely capable but probable?) Lakers are #1 contenders in my head.

  22. meant meshing not messing hehe

  23. @18- Dude, how is PER calculated? I’m a high school basketball coach and would like to implement some new metrics to measure performance.

  24. Aaron @ #5,
    “It hit him and I don’t think we will be having the same Kobe “ISO” Bryant we have seen for much of his career. I just have this feeling. He has discovered “The Secret”.”

    I wonder how many bloggers on this thread realize just how ‘basketball smart’ Kobe really is?

    IMO, Aaron, you are not giving Kobe enough credit for understanding the NBA game and his teammates. In both games Sessions has been playing the final minutes, Kobe has deferred the playmaking duties. I doubt, this is a ‘lightbulb’ just coming on. It is much, much more likely Kobe was forced to do what he was doing by the structure of the offense and the structure of the team. It became a habit.

    However, Kobe, unlike most of the rest of us, was actually able to quickly break this habit once a quick, effective PG appeared on the scene.

  25. Off-topic, but a nice article about how Kareem continues to do meaningful things long after his basketball career:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=ap-abdul-jabbar-education

  26. Warren Wee Lim March 24, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Craig, what you don’t realize is that Aaron is looking for something wrong with the team. Its not really more of “geez Kobe can’t ISO us to defeat anymore” as much as “Fish is gone so I need another scarecrow to punch” …

    As for Ra-mahn Sesh, he is clearly a high-IQ player whose physicals match that ability. He has speed which cannot be taught, and he has a knack for finding the right plays. Sure having great teammates would definitely help, but players like him who was never really depended upon like this before has a great chance to shine. And he has. And the ability to perform in this big a stage means he is more than just the label of “average” but he’s not nearly an “all-star” just yet.

  27. Couple of thoughts for all of y’all…

    1) For all who thought Lakers were better served with Sessions coming off the bench, do you still feel the same?
    I know its only his first game starting but just want to hear your thoughts on this.

    2) Is Messina still an asst. coach? Judging from pau/drew’s play he is. The big-to-big play has been outstanding. Messina has not been mentioned enough here on forum, he has lakers bigs playing excellent together.

  28. Re: Ranking Sessions among starting PG’s

    @Dude,

    I am tempering my Sessusiasm with the following:

    1. Shooting. If he continues to shoot at his current clip w/ the Lakers he would be putting up historical Nash-like shooting numbers. I’m not sure this is sustainable. As long as he’s taking the great looks that he’s selecting for now, how well he shoots doesn’t matter to me that much, but his PER would drop with more human-like shooting.

    2. Defense. He doesn’t create that much havoc in passing lanes, and he can get lost sometimes. PER doesn’t quantify this that well.

    If you take a look at the PER’s of point guards, guys are so talented now it’s really no wonder people are calling it the “golden age of PG’s.” From an individual overall talent perspective, I would put Sessions in the 10-20 range.
    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/statistics?position=pg&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba%2fhollinger%2fstatistics%3fposition%3dpg

    But his value is definitely enhanced because he plays on a team with so many scorers. What if pre-MVP Rose and current Sessions switched places? Would the Bulls be as good and would we be as good? Rose fills that scoring need while Sessions fills our distributing, command the offense role.

    For Sessions to really be as great a PG as he’s shown in his Laker games, he would be the next Jeremy Lin – ie nobody knew he was this good but he blows everyone away. Except while Jeremy went from NBDL to Jeremy Lin, Sessions would go from Jeremy Lin to Chris Paul. So I just don’t know if there can be two such anomalies in one season.

    Ranking players based on position doesn’t mean much. What’s more important that we can take away from this run is that he is a great fit for this team. He is what this team needs. He is a player that makes us better than the sum of our parts, which is a notion that makes championship level teams. Better than our talent sum is a scary exciting notion.

  29. Well, I guess it´s pretty easy to understand the impact Session has on the Lakers.

    On a night that Kobe and Gasol shot a combined 10-31 and the bench just scored 13 points, which game we could have won in the past?

    Not even against the Bobcats.

  30. Aaron, the light bulbs are flickering in Kobe, it looks like it is Christmas time again at Staples. He’s happy, smiling after a bad shooting night because Santa Ramon is here to stay with the Lakers.

  31. One of the things that’s struck me about Sessions’ play is how controlled and deliberate it is. He has a degree of comfort running the offense that is infectious and seems to instill confidence in the rest of the team. As a fan watching, I just feel as though he will make the right decision the vast majority of the time (there were certainly a few possessions last night where he either turned the ball over or came very close to doing so but, all things considered, I’ve been surprised at how rare that’s been thus far). He really is able to control a game and that’s something that is simply a joy to watch.

    I think a potential added benefit of having Sessions on the team that hasn’t been discussed, and something to watch going forward, is how he can help in the development of Darius Morris (who showed some promise during his limited run early in the season). It’ll should be really interesting to see the relationship that develops between those two over time as I think Sessions can really help school Morris on how to run an NBA offense while playing under control and not forcing the action.

  32. It’s amazing Kobe has never had a perimeter talent next to him like Ramon Sessions in 16 years. 16 YEARS. That’s a long time having to shoulder the backcourt like that. Kobe never had a another ball handler to make it easy on him until now.

    So I don’t think a light bulb went off. Lakers in the Kobe years for the first time have a TRUE PG someone who can create instead of a great system PG who can knock down shots.

  33. Dude,
    Agreed. Ramon has all star potential. All along if he developed a shot people said he would turn into a little monster. Well… He developed a shot. Yikes. At least with the Gasol trade we sent out lots of expiring contracts. To get Ramon we got to send out multi year contracts on out of rotation players…. Of course along with the somewhat valuable first round pick. But Sessions is the final piece to this almost “perfectly” constructed team. There are no holes now. Big skilled center. Long finesses PF who can spread the floor. Big hulking elite wing defemder bad boy at the 3. The ultimate SG. This roster is so ideal. It’s like the height, body types, and skill sets coaches want at every spot on the floor. Should I curb my enthusiasm? I don’t think so. I thought this would happen when we acquired a true PG in this offense and I don’t need to see anymore. I’m going to pee my pants. Amd look… Ramon has brought out what we saw in Barnes and Artest before coming to LA. Some guy I guess need to play with true PGs.

  34. >>>Ramon has all star potential

    only bad thing? Laker is gonna pay big to lock him after this year:(

  35. Billbill,
    Hopefully we don’t have to pay him more than 9 mill a year.

    Re: Fisher
    We all agree we want the best for Derek Fisher moving forward… So let’s hope he only has games like last night against the Lakers from now on :( This from Kevin Ding at the OC Reister

    The fresh love affair between Derek Fisher and Oklahoma City hit its first bumps Friday night, but it still ended in a victory.
    Fisher got the chance to play significant meaningful minutes to match up with the small-guard lineup Minnesota fielded with Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea. With Fisher at shooting guard to go with star point guard Russell Westbrook, the Thunder faltered late in regulation with Fisher missing one open jumper and another open 3-pointer. He also had trouble sticking with Ridnour at the other end.
    Fisher shot 2 for 11 from the field (1 of 5 on 3-pointers), scoring five points with three assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes. Oklahoma City survived behind Westbrook’s 45 points and Kevin Durant’s 40.

  36. @28, Don – He’s said he really worked hard last off season on his outside shot for the very first time. Looks like it paid off. Yes, his percentages will likely come down, but let’s see where his numbers begin to level off. Right now, his numbers get better with each game with his new team.

    As for defense, not one of his defensive assignments with the Lakers has gone off yet. He did better against Dragic, Terry, and Beaubois than Blake did, and he did all right against Devin Harris. When he was with Cleveland earlier, he pretty much destroyed Chris Paul in one of the games he started.
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201202080CLE.html

  37. as in filmmaking or a fine meal, chemistry is a factor that’s hard to put into words…
    the addition of Sessions is this kind of chemistry.
    I think it’s only ring to get better, like a good pot of chili gets better the longer it simmers, as we get further into the stretch drive towards the playoffs.
    this is a formidable team, no doubt.

  38. First, I’m liking how Sessions has brought a breath of fresh air to this team. It’s like this team has the “new car” smell that it had after it got Gasol. And that’s fun to watch because we don’t know what to expect.

    But, there are some things we need to be on the lookout for:

    1. Pau has reverted to playing very far from the basket. While he was knocking them down in Dallas, last night the same shots were given to him and he wasn’t nearly as consistent in hitting them. While I understand the need to not have a clogged lane for Sessions to penetrate, and Kobe/Bynum to do work, the two problems with having him so far out is his efficiency will go down on the offensive end, and he will be out of position to get offensive boards. Plus, it relegates the Lakers from using his still all world post-up game.

    2. The defense has left something to be desired. Sure, the Lakers crushed Dallas – but that is because the Lakers couldn’t miss. Dallas was getting everything they wanted, and it never seemed so forced. The same was true for Portland. In that 2nd-3rd Q stretch, Portland was getting an array of wide open looks from deeps – and Lamarcus would torch the bigs on any other possession.
    Session’s big deficiency so far is he is playing some guards the wrong way. I would dare to say that no one person can stop a good PG for extended stretches in this league – with the way offenses are built from the high pick and roll – so I can’t blame him for all of the problems there. But, he does make mental mistakes that would seem to be against the game plan of guarding certain offensive players – Ex: going under screens against JTerry when JTerry should never be left to spot up all alone.
    It will be fun to see how he progresses in his department so that in the Playoffs Kobe doesn’t have to play the role of guarding the other teams PG and can either roam or try to lock down one of the good wings (if he still has that in him).

    As a side note – if the Thunder played the Fisher/Westbrook/Harden/Durant/Ibaka lineup against the Lakers for long stretches they would be making a mistake. With Gasol and Bynum in the Lakers could play volleyball. And fisher would be forced to guard a speedy PG in Ramon (something we all know he can’t do). It’s not like they could put Westbrook on Ramon (who isn’t a terribly great defender anyway), and Harden on Kobe, and have Fisher guarding much bigger players like MWP or Barnes because there would be a giant mismatch every time down the court. Even though the offense doesn’t run through them, that gives viability for 3 rebounders on every play. Fisher can do a decent job chasing shooting guards off of screens (a la his defense against Ray Allen), but I’m willing to bet they won’t want a Kobe/Fisher matchup one-on-one (as Fish is too small, and not fast enough of a player to bother Kobe’s game. Also, it would leave Ibaka as the only paint protector – and if he did his job (to block shots), that would mean he would be leaving Andrew for easy offensive rebounds and putbacks.
    Unless, of course, if the Thunder just played zone – because we all know that the Lakers are terrible against a zone (see last night against Portland). But playing zone would mitigate their opportunity to get fast break points, and would hamper the point of the small ball offense.
    It is still more likely a Thunder team is going to play a lot of Perkins/Ibaka front lines to try to mitigate the Lakers bigs first and force Ramon/Kobe to beat them. And then rely on Westbrook/Durant/Harden to provide the offense on the other end.

  39. 9.R.R. Magellan wrote on March 24, 2012 at 12:55 am
    “It’s all about having the right parts of the team … what he is… is the perfect complement.”

    Right! They already have three stars …

  40. 35.billbill wrote on March 24, 2012 at 10:36 am
    ” only bad thing? Lakers are gonna pay big to lock him after this year:( ”

    Not as much as it’ll cost somebody to lock up CP3. :)

  41. Noting the obvious chemistry between Sessions and Barnes makes me wonder…

    What would Sessions be like with Barnes and Ebanks on the floor together?

    Ebanks doesn’t have Barnes’ motor, but he has the potential to cut just as well as Barnes. He’s athletic, young, and could fill the role Ariza did originally as part of the Bench Mob alongside Farmar and Sasha.

    I think Brown should give Ebanks a look alongside Sessions (and Barnes). Two athletic cutters on the floor with Sessions could do wonders for our bench.

  42. Dude,
    Yea… He crushed CP3. The Cavs announcer said that was the point where he thought “Wow… This guy needs to start somewhere”. He said he literally outplayed him one on one on both sides of the ball. It was that moment like when Bynum outplayed Duncan a few years ago… You were like… This guy can play.

  43. I think Sessions has had a big impact on Metta. He found him in his sweet spots were he can do damage. And when he is hitting from the inside he gains confidence for his outside shot as well. We already know he can defend so if Metta can bring 10 to 12 points a night consistently, we will be very hard to beat.

  44. It would be nice if someone made a quantitative analysis after about 10 games.

    __

    Prior to yesterday’s game, the Lakers were averaging 114 points per possession, a figure which would lead the NBA, with Sessions on the floor. Small sample, but notable.

  45. Ramon doesn’t even need to be a deadeye shooter. He just needs to make them enough to have the defense respect his shot. That’ll give him enough room to penetrate. What you hope to avoid is where the D lays off him by several feet or goes under the screen everytime.

  46. sorry aaron i read that with a smile i dont want okc getting better…fish is not a laker anymore…hope he doesnt make another bucket in his career

  47. @39 Cdog – I recall he only went under the screen a few times against Terry. I remember him chasing Terry around the screen a lot. I think Terry was something like 6-11 in 27 minutes with Ramon defending him, but really lit up Blake in the few minutes that the latter tried (and failed) to defend him.

  48. Aaron/billbill: With regard to paying for Sessions after this yr. The figure (if $9 million is correct) is somewhat irrelevant, except for taxes. The Lakers will have the right to pay him whatever they need to + we are in no position to get under the cap. KB is at $30, Pau $19, + then we will pay AB $19, RS $9. I don’t know about your math, but mine says that is $78 for 4 players. So – there is no way we can get down to the cap + sign FA. Any salary dumping or failure to use TPE is strictly for profits.

  49. Batman,
    Ha. Well that’s why I said when he plays the Lakers. Derek Fisher will always have a very special place in my heart. To be honest… If the Lakers don’t win a championship I want it to be OKC now. That’s just how I personally feel. But I understand why one will put Lakers first and everyone else last. I undertaand and respect that view point. Basketball is just my life so I develop attachments to players. And Fisher has won five championships with us. He is a Laker no matter what uniform he is wearing. But of course… When he plays the Lakers I want him to go down!!! :)

  50. Robert,
    Yea. I don’t know how much Ramon would cost on the open market. I haven’t thought about it. I have done that now for the last 3 minutes as I think if he plays like this for the rest of the season and the playoffs… In this new market (PGs everywhere/ no money available) I think we could sign him for 6 million a year and a 5 year contract. But I think the Lakers like to pay above market value by a couple million for players they think are undervalued by the league. I say they sign him for 5 years and 7.5 mill a year. That’s my guess.

  51. Sessions was with Golden St, Milwaukee, Cleveland, he has been with different systems, that’s why he came to Lakers and can play right away. The good thing, he said on the radio, he will improve his 3pt shooting this summer.

    About Jim Buss, i listen to him on the radio only half of the show. I am surprised that he is the stats guy, he has his own players rating system, but i think because he had training horse business before so maybe that’s the reason. He seems to be patient, don’t rush to change things quickly, he knew the problem of luxury tax in the new CBA.
    He likes to watch Lakers games and can be crazy when Lakers loosing.

    At the end of the show, he said he is boring guy, but i think it’s normal , people is different .

  52. @48 – Dude Abides.

    Going under screens a few times against a dead-eye shooter who has lost some of his zip can’t be the right approach. Against Rondo, of course thats what you do. Against Westbrook/Rose/DWill, I’m sure you need to mix it up to keep him honest. But, would much rather have him force Terry to the middle where his shot can be contested consistently or the ball can get out of his hands.

    And Blake’s defense typically leaves much to be desired… The standard that is set needs to be higher than what Blake can produce on the defensive end.

  53. Re: Aldridge V Pau

    It was just one game. But Gasol just was dominated by LA on both sides of the ball. I don’t know. Gasol has his head screwed on straight now after the deadline and had been playing very well on both sides of the ball. Is it safe to say LA is now the better player? I know we are all Laker fans and Gasol fans. I still think Gasol is a top five PF in the NBA and better than Dirk. He might be even better than Blake. I was wrong on that for now. Blake has really regressed offensively. The league literally has come up with a defense to stop him. They were always letting him shoot jumpers. I wonder what happened? Darius… Ideas on what defenses are doing to stop Blake one on one?

  54. Projecting Ramon’s market value is interesting. It’s also impossible until we see what kind of playoff run he has (that’s when GMs wet themselves and rush to throw out money), but just for fun …

    A quick list of teams with cap space in 2012 (let me know if I missed any):

    Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Denver, Golden State, Indiana, Houston, New Jersey, New Orleans, Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento, Toronto.

    Of those teams, who needs Sessions? We can cross off Cleveland (Irving), Boston (Rondo), Denver (Lawson), Golden State (Curry), Houston (Lowry),

    With that in mind, here are the potential teams that have a need for Sessions and would likely represent our stiffest competition:

    -New Jersey (if Williams leaves)
    -New Orleans
    -Portland
    -Charlotte
    -Indiana
    -Sacramento
    -Phoenix (if Nash leaves)

    Toronto’s borderline, depending on how invested they are in Calderon (1 more year remaining on his deal).

    Teams like Indiana are fairly desperate for a PG like Sessions. Portland would be another great fit. If D-Will leaves NJ, Mikhail will probably through a max deal Sessions’ way, considering what he gave Outlaw.

    Without crunching the actual cap space numbers and looking at the full FA list (Williams, Nash, Kaman are the big UFAs), it’s hard to predict how much money teams will throw at Ramon. But $6 million seems low.

    I do hope we can retain Ramon for around $6-7 million. A guaranteed starting spot, the Lakers stage, chemistry with his teammates – hopefully all these things can sway him towards taking a bit less money. But I could easily see Sessions getting offers beyond that.

  55. I didn’t include Dallas because it looks to me like they’ll end up with Deron Williams. But you could potentially add them to the list.

  56. Something I wish the Lakers would do more on offense to create better spacing.

    When teams double and triple team Bynum on the left block the Lakers need to put Kobe on the weakside and then swing it quickly to him when Bynum gets triple teamed and kicks it back out to the point. The Lakers have shown that they will look to repost Bynum when he kicks it back out the the perimeter, so the extra defenders don’t rush back to their men as they are anticipating the repost.

    Getting Kobe the ball with defenders scrambling to rotate gives him the options to either a) attack the basket, b) swing it to the corner for a 3-pointer, c) take the 3-pointer himself, or d) swing in back to the point for a repost of Bynum if Kobe’s defender gets back to him too quickly.

    I have seen them swing the ball slowly, giving the defense ample time to recover, but I have yet to see them swing it quick enough that Kobe would get the ball and have all those options available to him.

    A few succesful quick perimeter passes leading to scores off of penetration or corner 3’s would make defenders think twice about sticking around Bynum after the kick out, thus make him more effective on the repost.

    thoughts?

  57. #53. RE Pau vs. LMA: Pau averages 5 less points per game but shoots a higher %, has a higher rebound average (and rebound rate), averages more assists (and has a higher assist rate) while averaging only a shade more to’s, blocks nearly twice as many shots, and fouls less. I’d say they’re pretty comparable players but I’d probably give the edge to Pau considering the rebounding numbers and how they compare defensively. Maybe that’s bias. I do believe that LMA is a fantastic talent though and a player you can build a franchise around – though someone that would probably be the 2nd best player on a title team (just like Pau).

  58. Snoopy,
    Hmmm. I think teams draft their PGs. I agree there is a chance one team breaks the bank for a Sessions always. But when was the last time a team signed a good PG for big bucks? Steve Nash in Arizona for like 9 mill a year? I think it doesn’t happen often because teams feel like they can get star PGs anywhere in the draft. Tony Parker was a late first round pick. Monte Ellis was a second round pick, Same with Ramon. Same with Gilbert Arenus. There are tons of other examples. It’s easy to get a good PG anywhere in the first round and even sometimes in the 2nd. PGs are a dime a dozen in this league now. So teams usually don’t fork out the big bucks for non superstar PGs. I hope for all our sake I am right here. Haha. Cause it will suck for our finances if we have to pay him more than nine million a year.

  59. Pau v LA

    Darius,
    So just one of those games for LA? Maye he was just super hot. It just seemed like he was just flat out better than Gasol I guess. It will be an interesting battle to see the next time they go at it. They are very similar pkayers. If people didn’t see color LA would have been compared to Gasol his whole career. They have similar bodys and skill sets and games. When there were at the same age they were the same kind of athlete. They move the same even.

  60. RS7 has completely changed the way I watch and enjoy Laker games now. When he takes the ball upcourt, if there is an opening in the defense at all, he will increase speed, and just blow right though the defense taking it to the hole. He is so exciting to watch.

  61. If Sessions continues to grow and shines in the playoffs the Lakers will pay him his market value, regardless of what that is. We kind of lucked out in obtaining him in his break out year. If he was an established star, he would be much more expensive to sign.

    If he continues to grow there is no reason that he can not be our PG of the future as well as the present. This will allow us to obtain a star at another position for the post Kobe years. 2014 is the year we lose a lot of contracts. having Sessions and an emerging Drew would be quite appealing to one of the high level free agents that year. Or we can revisit trade proposal for Pau, perhaps grabbing a young up and comer. Either way Sessions could have a huge impact for the future.

  62. Darius is on the KBros Podcast that just went up.

  63. I agree with Aaron. I will be rooting for OKC against non-Laker opponents in post-season.

  64. @53, Cdog – A few times out of many isn’t bad. Anyway, not once in Sessions’ short Laker career has his opposing PG gone off against us while Sessions was on the court. Dragic and Terry had the best games of these five, and they mostly lit up Blake (as did Beaubois). Granted, we have yet to face an elite PG with Sessions on our team, but I’m confident we’re in much better shape on the defensive end now than we were prior to March 15th.

  65. After Sessions had his breakout stretch for the bucks in 08-09 when he went off for 15 & 17 followed by 44 & 12 two games later (he also had a 16/10/16 early that year) he got his 4-year 16m offer from the Wolves.

    I’m guessing, if he opts out and tests the market after putting up 12/3/8 the rest of the year and has a good playoff run that he will be looking for closer to 8m a year. (ie, the TPE)

    PGs in this league are interestingly underpaid though.

    Parker and Nash are at $12.5 and $11, whilst Kidd and Rondo are both at $10m a year.

    Rodney Stuckey and Kirk Hinrich feel overpaid at $8.5M whereas Kyle Lowery is a steal at just under $6m

    Bottom line though, unless your name is Deron Williams, Chris Paul, or Derrick Rose, PGs aren’t getting max salaries.

    My guess is that Sessions agent will ask for a deal starting at 9+, the Lakers FO will tell them to come back with a concrete offer from another team for that much, and Sessions will eventually settle for somewhere around 4-years/26-8M

  66. i like that sessions isn’t sucking up to players and going out of his way to defer to them. he’s not insecure about his game and he is self-confident without being brash or flashy.

    on D he seems to go out of his way to avoid contact with screeners. that makes defending shooters like terry difficult because there’s more distance to cover. it also obliges the big man trying to stop the ball to be more aggressive, which could lead to foul trouble. ideally, sessions will get out of his comfort zone enough to contain players you can’t go under screens against like terry, nash, and paul.

  67. Haha. Wow. Interesting and sad economic sampling. Supply and demand. Such a great supply of great PGs and such little demand because of it. So sad. The best players in the league don’t get paid as much as Chris freaking Kaman. Oh well. Such is life.

  68. @54 – Pau is one of the best PF in the league. The problem is that Aldrige, Igoudala and Kevin Love are better than him. But that’s it. Being the 5th best PF is still very good.

  69. so, its seems our pg issues are solved, and though barnes and artest are playing a little better, do you guys feel like we still have that gaping hole at sf? i think sessions has helped barnes excel, and the pg’s speed has helped barnes improve, but in my mind, sf is still an issue, which hopefully we address in the offseason.

    that being said, who do you guys think we be the best sf to chase this of season? I think someone like batum would be amazing in the purple and gold but he might be too expensive considering we only have the mle (not sure about that). (Also when does the odom exception expire? can we use that on free agents this summer?) Who do you guys think would be the ideal sf to play with sessions, kobe, pau, and bynum? and who do you guys think we can afford/can sign? fields also comes to mind, but he seems more like a spur than a laker to me. I’d prefer my starting 3 to be a better shooter…thoughts?

  70. We have his bird rights right, so keeping him I don’t think will be a problem even if is market value is 8-10 mil range. Lakers management has not been about saving money at all costs, they’ve been about deciding whether individual players are worth it on a case to case by basis. And as Sessioms continues to play the way he’s been playing, he will be worth that money even if we’re deep into the luxury tax

  71. @69 – I only put Love and Nowitzki above Pau at PF. Aldridge doesn’t rebound, defend, or pass as well as Pau does, and Iguodala is a SF/SG. I think Millsap is also just behind Pau overall.

    @70 – I don’t think SF is a weakness at all. It becomes one if Barnes leaves after this season and if we amnesty MWP, but I don’t believe that both of those things will happen. MWP is still close to being an elite wing defender, and Barnes is like a Swiss army knife. Re-signing Sessions is the most important factor this coming summer (personnel-wise) in keeping us championship contenders for the next two seasons.

  72. 70 – Batum is a restricted free agent; Portland will match. The Odom TPE expires in December 2012, if memory serves.

    I don’t think SF is a weakness either. With a 4-weapon offensive starting lineup now, we need elite defense from that 3 spot. Unless Philly wants to dump Iguodala for Blake and our rookies, Artest and Barnes are a great complimentary set at that position. (Although my head almost exploded picturing Iguodala with our current starters).

    If you’re getting frustrated with Artest, just think back to the 2008 Finals and watching Radmanovic try to contain Pierce. Instant relief.

    Haha Dude you’re reaching Aaron-on-Bynum levels of man-crushing on Sessions. I can only imagine what would happen if we had signed Wright too :D

  73. I think Pau is still an elite PF and I think he will remain through this contract. Generally bigs play at a higher level longer then wing players.I think if we make it to the finals we will bring back this group and maybe add someone to the 2nd unit that can create. Perhaps Morris can even grow into that guy with a proper off season and training camp.

  74. i believe if dallas loses tonight, they fall from 5th place to 9th place.

  75. Dude,
    So Dirk ahead of Gasol still? Like I agree last year Dirk was better and maybe for his entire career because of how Dirk could carry an offense. Like who do you think is better today and in this years playoffs. They are sort of similar players (kinda). Not completley of course. Or are we talking in their individual primes?

    And yea. I don’t understand why people think SF is a big need. It’s the biggest need we have now… But it’s a pretty super small need. I mean Artest is now a average three point shooter when he is in shape and an elite defender still. Barnes has a good PER and is a hustle guy. I think people need to put it in perspective. Yes it’s our biggest need. No it is not a major weakness.

  76. And yea. Pau is no doubt legit. He is legit. The guy has always been a top 5 PF in the NBA for his entire career. The guy is a half of gamer anyway you slice it. Legit.

    And speaking of legit (the word of the day)… This team is no joke. We are set everywhere in our lineup and with four very good players and an elite wing defemder rounding out our lineup. Mark my words (said in a hauntingly serious voice) we will be reminiscing about this season. About these times. With these last two championship teams the championship team here this season and the next. Haha. I just called it. I’m gonna be the retard who is the first one to say I think we are going to win the championship. Wait…someone else said it too. Not me. Snoopy? Wo was it?

  77. SF is fine with Ron and Barnes. I think those two are doing well enough that it’ll actually hurt the long term prospects of that position for the team. Ebanks isn’t happy about not getting any playing time and has made noises he doesn’t want to come back next year if he can’t crack the rotation. Despite the fact that he’s a restricted free agent and Lakers can match.

    He’s shown enough that I think he can be a solid contributor in that position. As a young inexpensive player, he’s exactly the kind of guy you want and need under the new CBA when you have a roster full of expensive stars.

    If the Lakers can keep him, he would be a valuable contributor as a spot starter, backup SF for a couple million a year.

  78. @73, Snoopy – You’re damn right I have a man crush on Sessions. In five games with the Lakers, his PER is 25.7 and his Offense-Defense Rating is 132-104. That PER would put him second in the league among point guards behind Chris Paul’s 26.3, and fifth among all NBA players behind LeBron, Wade, Durant, and Paul. At some point, he has to regress to the mean, right? It will be interesting to see where his production levels off. Right now his Laker PER is increasing by leaps and bounds with every game.

    As for Wright, I only wanted him because I thought he would be a good triangle point guard (definitely better than Blake). Now that we’re not running the triangle anymore, I’m really happy with Sessions, and Barnes is playing Wright’s natural position and doing just fine.

  79. @76, Aaron – Yes, because teams have to devote more of their defensive game planning to Dirk than they do to Pau, but those two are very close in overall quality when you add Pau’s superior rebounding, passing, and defense. Because of Pau’s comparable overall game and his playing style, he’s a better fit with the Lakers than Dirk would be.

  80. With respect to Sessions asking salary, it should be noted that Pau will likely be on the trade block again unless we get to the Finals or win a Championship this year due to the huge penalties in the 2014 season when KB24 has a salary of 30M+ (hoping that success through the playoffs will make this topic moot).

    At the deadline, I was thinking that the best solution was DW from MIN, but after the season, CLE has enough cap space to absorb Pau/Blake (Blake will have to be attached to Pau in any trade IMO) and send us back Thompson. Haven’t seen him play much, but he seems like the kind of young PF that would fit nicely with the current roster. Thoughts?

  81. In no way is Aldridge better than Pau. Gasol trumps him in every area. Aldridge is a 6’10 jumpshooter who doesn’t rebound. Only Love can touch Gasol at this point. Pau is a class above everyone IMO ampadexrious, good range, best big man passer and it’s not close, nice defense, good Ft shooter, CHAMPION 2X. When he’s aggressive he’s unstoppable. No other guys should be mentioned with Pau except Love, Dirk, Duncan.

    The only way Sessions has the chance of opting in is if lakers win it all. As good as Ron’s been for Lakers at times he should get the amnesty to make room for Sessions.

    tviper: CLE may want to grow together like OKC did. Pau’s salary is high and I only see a elite team that would take it on like Chicago tried too.

  82. @ Darius

    Re: Pau vs. LA

    It’s all about match-ups. LA gives Pau problems because he can drive by him if too far out the court. He can shoot from the outside by fainting Pau which he does frequently. The biggest advantage he has over Pau is that he is far more athletic. He is able to muscle Pau and we all know that anyone who can play physical with Pau usually can best him. LA not be better than Pau, but head to head, he’s a tough match-up. Think Bynum vs. Howard.

  83. Warren Wee Lim March 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Darius, I un-retired with hopes of a better post quality from members here… thinking that now that Fisher is an afterthought that I’d have less stress reading or reacting.

    But I was wrong. I get the impression that while some posts and posters may not necessarily be bad or illegal (per blog rules) and that they are not necessarily the most helpful or the classy ones that put forumblueandgold.com in the map.

    And it was naive of me to think that classless people could grow such in their characters…

  84. For all those thinking that the Lakers are going to amnesty MWP next year….forget about it. Lil’ Jim has a statistical matrix that shows MWP is still a top 5 defender at his position. He actually has a positive overall number with his defense being the largest contributor. His salary is cheap enough that the Lakers will probably use the amnesty provision on a larger salaried player if at all.

    There are weaknesses to this team, namely a back-up big man that can be used against physical big men. Other areas would include a back up for Kobe and another scorer off the bench like Beasley would have been.

  85. Am I mistaken Darius or is it true under the new CBA we will be able to spread out (I don’t think it’s called a restructuring though) Kobe’s and Pau’s contracts over years in order to mediate larger contracts signed prior to the CBA?

  86. It’s generally auspicious the way we have our team set up now with deserved contracts going to the positions that are least talented in the league i.e. Center, Shooting Guard, Power Forward – in that order. I feel like PG’s and SF’s are a lot more plentiful in terms of the talent pool and therefore the ability to fill those roles with a price tag that’s worth it. And by all indications Barnes and Sessions are undervalued by their current salaries.

  87. Lakers month by month

    Dec. 5 games Off. 93 PPG Def. 87.5 PPG 3-2

    Jan. 17 games Off. 93.4 PPG Def. 92 PPG 10-7

    Feb. 13 games Off. 93.2 PPG Def. 92.1 PPG 8-5

    March 13 games Off. 102.3 PPG Def. 98.7 PPG 9-4

    Point differential in March is +4.4 from +2.2 Dec. thru Feb.

    Lakers 100 points scored:
    Dec. None
    Jan. 3 games out of 17
    Feb. 3 games out of 13
    March 9 games out of 13

  88. I really wanted this team to get Beasley this year. 22, good skills. Sure his brain needs a wake up call but few 22 year olds don’t.

    Fri was the 1st game that I got to see Sessions in a Lakers uniform and it was a bit shocking to see a confidently skilled guard that wasn’t on the enemy side for a change. He seems to avoid (maybe susceptible would be a better term) contact a bit in terms of fighting through screens and Felton was regularly bouncing him off to clear space. I’ll need to see more to get a feel for what his defensive instincts are or are not. Everything else was all good. He played very decisively for only his 4th game which goes to show his b-ball character and acumen.

  89. My math sucks tonight meant point differential is +3.6 lol

  90. Yeesh.. if those stats are correct, and im assuming that they are, then our defense has regressed as much as our offense has progressed. We are giving up 10 more points per game then in December, and 6 more than in Jan or Feb. This is not a recipe for championship basketball. With all the offensive talent we have on this team (especially now with Sesh), it’s our defense that will end up carrying us.

  91. @91, Frank – We’re playing at a much faster pace now, and we just had a couple OT games. I don’t think our Points per 100 Possessions has risen a whole lot.
    Edit – Our Defensive rating is 10th in the league at 101.8.

  92. Good point The Dude @92.

    Faster pace means more attempts. More attempts means more offensive chances for both teams. What has been better are fewer turnovers and more team assists since Sessions has arrived. Those two things will also increase the offensive production if a) shooting remains the same or improves and b) the rebound rate remains the same or increases.

    What we now see is that this team’s offensive woes were mostly due to not having someone who can run the point. Sessions is an above average point guard, but he is not CP3 or Deron Williams by any stretch of the imagination. He fits what we need perfectly. He handles the ball well, can take almost anyone to the hole, and sees the floor well. He also keeps the ball out of Kobe’s mangled hands (Kobe said that having to bring the ball up was especially hard due to his wrist).

    What we also see now is how bad Steve Blake really is. He is putting up Fish numbers. He really needs to step up, because we need him against bigger guards. Everyone also sees that Sessions does not like contact and gets somewhat bullied by bigger guards (read “Fat Ray” Felton).

    Lastly, the bench now lacks a scorer who can create his own shot with Sessions starting. It would be nice for Mike Brown to play Ebanks more at the 2 to see if he can contribute off the bench as a scorer. We may need his defensive length in the playoffs, so playing him now will pay great dividends in the future. Think how teams play tall, long players against Kobe at the end of games. We could do the same thing with Ebanks.

    Everything slows down in the playoffs.

  93. Damn the Mavs signed Kelenna Azubuike. He hasn’t played in awhile, but I was hoping we would take a chance on him. I think this was Dallas saying they needed another scorer since benching LO.

  94. How is Chris Bosh not even mentioned in the conversation about best PF’s? He’s just as skilled as Pau and Dirk and has the great rebounding too.

  95. @ Chownoir

    He doesn’t average double figures in rebounds like Pau, doesn’t average as many blocks as Pau or LA, doesn’t play defense or post players like Pau or LA, and doesn’t assist as well as those being mentioned either.

  96. Chownoir: he usually kills the Lakers – we’re trying not to think about it :-)

  97. I’m pretty sure bosh averages around 8 a game.. Like Pau used to before he came to the Lakers. Lot more opportunities to grab boards when you play with Kobe ;)

  98. IMO,
    In the discussion over how much we will have to pay RS in the off-season – if the bidding gets up in the $8M-$9M area – remember we own the Lamar trade exception and will probably pay the freight.

    I know, the two are not related, but our financial situation is – bloggers seem to conveniently forget this fact when talking getting another ‘fantastic’ player.

    All I am saying is don’t complain about Jim Buss when he doesn’t exercise that trade option after signing RS to a much bigger contract.

  99. Warren Wee Lim March 25, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Craig, the 8.9M Odom TPE can be used to acquire a player w/ salary of 9M (TPE amount + 100k) but cannot be used to sign players from Free Agency.

    Ramon Sessions signed a deal back in July 2009 that lasts 4yrs w/ the last year as a player option. That means he has 2 options this summer: opt out and become a free agent, or excercise his option and remain with us for 1 more year. Either of those options and we own his Larry Bird rights (3 this summer, 4 next summer) meaning we can sign him to whatever amount we are willing to give him until the maximum salary.

    Sessions was a very wise acquisition, which makes me praise our front office more than ever. I feel that we have the best front office in basketball period because they knew about things only cappologists are supposed to know, and only the better half of the better GMs know.

    IMO, its too early to talk about RS7’s impending free agency, although with lots of money thrown around and the limited quality of free agents in the market will not work for us.

    I will be making a post about the Lakers’ future based on Mitch’s crystal ball pretty soon. If there’s 1 thing I’m good at, its managing those finances. But trust me, Mitch is actually better.

  100. Craig/Warren: It really comes down to Buss family profits vs winning. Profits aside, you should either go all out for a title, or you should position yourself for FA. There is literally zero chance of us being a player in FA until after 14. Therefore between now and then, we go for it. Not using the TPE, not paying up for RS, + other moves like that, only benefit profits. After 14 – it is a whole new game – however until then, the finances “should be” simple. Spend as much as you can to get the title.

  101. So Craig: I will complain if he does that: I am a fan + that is what I do : ) The last thing I want is to lose in the WCF (or similiar) by a close margin, realizing that if we just had 1 more bench player, that we could have done it. I will immediately think of the 2 TPE’s we did not use. We may have tried – but not hard enough.

  102. Busboys,
    Unfortunately, that’s not true. There’s a “stretch exception” but that relates to players who are released (and who signed a contract this season or moving forward). That rule states that if a player is released, his salary can be “stretched” out over double the remaining seasons on his contract plus one season to lessen the cap and luxury tax charge.

  103. Don’t discount Portland. I’ve seen them play the Clips on 1/1 and Chicago on 3/16. Both games they came out of nowhere in the fourth to make it interesting (against the Clips they were down by 15 going into the fourth and up by one with less then a minute).
    That said – Ramon is a great pickup and regardless of this years outcome, I can’t wait to see what the Lakers do to in the off season. Hopefully, Sessions doesn’t price himself out of a contender like Ariza did!

  104. Warren: I looked at your link, and it provides a good summary of the possibilities. I think you could also count Barnes as a very probable signing. The point I am making is this: If we use the TPE at max value, exercise AB, sign RS, Barnes, + a couple others, then we could be close to $100. If you believe that the Lakers are making 100’s of millions elsewhere, then why not? Having an $80 or $90 payroll with no banner – is the worst case scenario.

  105. Robert, don’t forget about the taxes – this front office is NOT going to pay out 60+ millions (100-70 times 2) in taxes when the the penalties go to double, and beyond.

  106. Sessions has shot 10 FTs once in 5 games with the Lakers. Bynum has gone to the line for 10 FTs 3 times this year. Pau twice this year. Barnes 1 time.

    Steve Blake scored double figures 5 times this year with a high of 17 points. Sessions double figures 4 times in 5 games high is 20. Ron 9 times high is 19. Barnes high is 17.

    Lakes have had a player with 10+ assists 3 times. Pau 1, Fisher 1, Sessions 1. Kobe’s had 9 dimes 4 times.

    NO Laker has played over 40 minutes in 5 consecutive games.

    Does anyone think Sessions is as good as Lowry or better?

  107. tsuwm: Trust me – I am aware of the taxes. This board has been on a little bit of a FO love fest since the TD. I think Mitch deserves decent marks, but not yet for Jimbo. Why shouldn’t he pay the taxes if it means a better chance for a title? We are the Yankees of the NBA (network deal) + we should spend accordingly.

  108. Robert: I agree I think Lakers pay the taxes as long as championships are won. The 2014 season who knows.

    A big part of this is Sessions opt in if he does GREAT if not changes.

  109. Whether Buss pays for Sessions will obviously depend on:

    1. How well Sessions plays in post-season.
    2. How far the Lakers go in post-season.
    3. How much his other offers are.
    4. How much Jim Buss is really concerned with profit etc.

    We don’t know the answers to any of these yet.

  110. RE Lakers payroll: Don’t forget revenue sharing. Over at TrueHoop, Henry Abbott detailed that the Lakers are (likely) paying the most out of any team and in the range of 50 million per season. Henry compares that to paying for two additional Kobe’s but without any on court benefit of dishing out that money. I’m pretty sure this is important.

    As an aside, fans that want to spend other people’s money is always interesting to me because it’s typically based off deals they think should be made which is based off talent evaluation of the fan. There are so many factors that go into making deals. The Beasley deal fell apart at the last minute because the Wolves pulled out. Yet, the implication is that the Lakers didn’t try hard enough. Not sure what else they could have done in that instance but to imply that you do is disingenuous.

  111. Also important to remember that:

    a) The Lakers have the second-highest ticket prices in the NBA.
    b) The fanbase has supported the team very, very well for years and years.
    c) The Time-Warner deal is kicking in.

  112. Ramon Session is the breath of fresh air of talent, youth movement and professionalism. The others are: Bynum, Ebanks, Morris, Hill and G-lock. Ebanks, Hill and Morris are in the surface but who only play during garbage plays. G-lock’s playing time went down almost nil when RS joined the Lakers, it moved up Barnes and MacRob who are really contributing lately. Kobe need to be rested, I think G-lock and Ebanks should be utilized gradually to get their rhythm back, their youth energy should be harnessed at this time of the season. Once the playoffs start, Lakers will be relying too much with the three Bigs. Gordon Hill should also be exposed in defense and rebounds, Gasol has to reduce his minutes as well. You accomplished two objectives when playing the bench even for short minutes say 2-3 minutes: a). They would feel that they’re part of the team (one of the biggest complaint of Luke W. in Cleveland today that he was left out rotation of MBrown and he’s not really that injured); b). During free agency, young players would give preference to the Lakers first than go elsewhere where they will be wanted. Right now, Ebanks looks very disappointed in the bench for not getting any P/T. He was once a starter at the beginning of the season, will Andrew G-lock get the same fate as Ebanks?

  113. With regards to Lakers new management, it’s difficult to make any conclusion on what Jim Buss would do. On roster change, he was willing to boost the Lakers when he traded Odom and Pau for CP3. Again during trade deadline, he showed some guts in getting Beasley up to the last second. He offered the first round draft picks (which costs less) to bring youth and talent to the Lakers. Lastly, he was willing to offer Drew to get Howard straight up.

    On the other hand, Jim Buss showed us his true color when he shove Lakers tradition by eliminating long timed employees including the trainers and scouts. He chose an inexpensive Coach over the high profiled ones. He never used the TPE’s whether Sasha or Odom, so Lakers watchers are saying it was a clear salary dump to avoid luxury taxes.

    Up to this point, I don’t really know what to say with Jim Buss. Is he willing to spend for the Laker team in the future (post Kobe & Gasol) as fans clamor or pro penny pinching to gain more profits or all of the above? Are the Lakers the equivalent of the Yankees or the Dodgers on sale to the highest bidder?

  114. @ Kevin #109

    Their career averages are almost identical. Lowry is only 6′ tall (3″ shorter) but weighs 15 pounds more. I think that Sessions is probably more consistent with Lowry having the bigger upside (ability to score more because of a slightly better outside shot). Lowry doesn’t hesitate when he takes his shot and he shoots the ball at the high point of his jump.