Ramon Sessions to Los Angeles: Breaking Down the Lakers' New Lineup
Little trades can have big impacts.
Earlier today one such trade transpired. The Los Angeles Lakers sent Jason Kapono and Luke Walton along with a protected 2012 first-round draft pick to Cleveland for point guard Ramon Sessions and wingman Christian Eyenga.
The arrival of Sessions will change the Lakers starting five. It will also change the way the team operates—especially on offense.
It's going to have a positive impact, and it could be just what the team needs to put them in a position to win yet another NBA championship.
Here's a sneak peak at the new Los Angeles Lakers.
Starting Point Guard: Ramon Sessions
This is of course where the most dramatic change will take place.
Sessions has the ball handling and quickness to penetrate; he's got enough touch around the basket to force opposing defenses to react to his forays toward the rim, and he's got the ability to knock down an open shot or two as well.
Another nice aspect of Sessions game is his nearly 80 percent success rate from the free-throw line. That's always a huge factor when the player in question plays a position where the ball is frequently in his hands at the end of a game.
Sessions' abilities could have a transformative impact on the Lakers' offense. The team is 17th in the league in scoring even though they have two of the better offensive players—Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.
The lack of effective point guard play has stagnated the offense at times.
Adding Sessions isn't just going to increase the offensive product at the point guard position, it could end up increasing the amount of points scored across the board for the Lakers.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is still one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. He still needs some help on offense.
It's not easy breaking free of double teams all night, and it's even tougher when you're also counted on to create offense for others.
That's been the task assigned to Bryant this season though. He's the only player on the Lakers that can break down a perimeter defender, attack the basket and then either pass to an open teammate or finish at the rim.
Correction: he was the only player.
Sessions can do that as well. He's not as good at it as Bryant is, not many in NBA history are, but the mere threat that Bryant could pass off of dribble penetration to another perimeter player who won't just have to settle for a long-range jump shot is going to create a myriad of other options on offense.
Defenses work off of anticipation. Adding a new threat at the point guard position will create more opportunities for everyone on the floor, and when one of those players is already among the most lethal offensive threats in the league, that's a major problem for opposing defenses.
Small Forward: Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace isn't in the Lakers' starting five for his offensive production. He's there to play tough defense and then take advantage of defensive breakdowns that occur most frequently when a defense over commits to either Pau Gasol or Kobe Bryant.
Adding Sessions to the team will create more of those circumstances and that can only work in Peace's favor.
The best part is that with Peace not needing to work quite as hard to help generate offense he can exert more energy on defense.
Look for Peace to see more open three-point opportunities as well as more frequent open lanes to the basket as defenses struggle to make recoveries from scrambling to neutralize Bryant and Sessions.
Power Forward: Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol has one of the more versatile offensive repertoires among seven-foot NBA players.
Gasol can operate on the low blocks with his back to the basket, and he can face up and put the ball on the floor. He can also spot up from mid-range and drain an open jumper.
That versatility and size has always made Gasol a tough player to defend. This season Gasol has been scoring less points per game than his career average and shooting a below average percentage from the field as well.
That's due in large part to not getting the ball in good spots on the floor. When he gets the ball in the post it's not always delivered correctly. When forced to take a jump shot it's all too often as the shot clock is approaching zero.
The addition of Sessions should rectify some of these problems. Add to that Sessions' ability to effectively run the pick-and-roll and Gasol's numbers could get a nice boost in the season's final month.
Center: Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum is already in the midst of a breakout season.
He's establishing himself as one of the league's dominant big men, and at only 24 years of age, his future is limitless barring injury.
The addition of Sessions won't directly impact Bynum. He's such a big target that he was one of the few Lakers who teammates were able to get the ball to with regularity. What Sessions will do is create more chances for Bynum's teammates and that in turn will cause defenses to breakdown with more frequency.
What happens when defenses break down? Several things. There will be missed box-outs that allow Bynum easy dunks off the offensive glass; there will be times when he's left in a single coverage mismatch and be able to create his own room to operate effectively under the basket.
Bynum's points per game might not escalate but his field goal percentage could.