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.