Post NBA Trade Deadline: L.A. Lakers Spring Themselves Back into Contention

Nigel Broadnax@@BroadnaxWritesCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2012

Ramon Sessions will be a hefty upgrade at point for the Lakers.
Ramon Sessions will be a hefty upgrade at point for the Lakers.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Roughly two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Lakers seemed to be poised for a disappointing finish in the playoffs. They were losing to the league's cellar teams and just weren't playing the right way.

Kobe Bryant was attempting a huge bulk of the field-goal attempts, while Andrew Bynum wasn't getting enough.

The L.A. Clippers seemed like a lock to win the Pacific Division, while the Lakers would be stuck without home court advantage come April.

But what seemed to be fate appears to be altering as things are brightening up for the purple and gold.

The acquisition of Ramon Sessions is definitely a big plus for the Lakers. Any upgrade over Steve Blake and Derek Fisher at point guard would have been a big plus. 

While the loss of Fisher; who was traded to Houston in a separate deal, is an emotional loss, Sessions' impact on the court should help smooth that over.

The fifth-year point guard is averaging 10 points and five assists on the season and has similar averages for his career. He has come off the bench in the majority of his games as a pro. But in 89 games as a starter, he has posted averages of 14.8 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. That is a drastic increase from what any Laker point guard has produced in the last five seasons. Even if he does not start, he will still see more than enough minutes backing up Blake to generate substantial stats.

All season long, the Lakers have struggled with ball movement: getting the ball to Bynum and Pau Gasol in the right post spots and getting out on the break for quick baskets. What better way to improve these shortcomings than by installing a capable lead guard into?

This year it is especially important to get Bynum the ball as he is enjoying his best season, averaging over 17.5 PPG and almost 13 RPG. He has remained in good health as has become almost unquestionably the second best center in the league after Dwight Howard. When he gets position on the block against his opponent with his handful of post moves, he is shooting 57 percent from the field.

The offense had neglected to produce enough shots for someone who's so physically imposing and skilled in the paint, but lately he has seen the ball sufficiently. He was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday.

A passer like Sessions running the offense will definitely help continue to correct the problems they have faced.

Combine all of that with a Kobe motivated to eclipse Michael Jordan's championship total of six, and this veteran squad looks like a title threat.

The Lakers are just one of several teams in the West with a solid shot at making the Finals, but I wouldn't count a team with recent championship experience out.