Memo gets the rookie treatment (from Odenized)
As the Bucks' season sank into oblivion, most of us were hoping the Bucks would throw caution to the wind and give Ramon (pronounced Rah-MAHN) Sessions some burn. You know, maybe 10-15 minutes a night. Couldn't hurt, right? After all, with the Mo Williams experience again resulting in nice numbers but precious few victories, it seemed worthwhile to take stock of our point guard position, especially given the number of point guards available in the upcoming draft. Besides that, Sessions was extremely impressive in his extended stay in the D-League (21.1 ppg, 7.6 apg, 6.5 rpg), so we knew he could play.
Of course, we never thought he could play like this. While the basketball world was put on notice by his statistically mind-boggling 20-point, 24-assist, eight-rebound game last night--the assist numbers representing both a club record and an NBA high this season--Sessions has actually been pulling his poor man's John Stockton routine all month. In nine games in April, Sessions is averaging a double-double (10.0 points, 11.0 assists) in 37 mpg, showing the sort of point guard instincts we haven't seen in Milwaukee since T.J. Ford, while piling up assists faster than Ford the lottery pick ever did. Not bad for a guy who just turned 22 and had to wait until the 56th overall pick to hear his name called.
Though his numbers in college painted him more as a game manager and in the D-League he was mostly a scorer, the Sessions we've seen in Milwaukee is pass-first nearly to a fault. While he's started to find his range on open jumpers (including 2/5 from three), he doesn't have anywhere near the off-the-dribble shooting ability of Mo Williams, whose mid-range game ranks among the league's best. Most of Sessions' offense still comes from picking his spots and exploding to the rim, though he often struggles to finish when challenged. He also has an erratic floater that he puts almost apologetically, an adverb that can be more broadly applied to Sessions' attitude towards scoring right now. The hope is that as he gets more comfortable he'll gain more confidence shooting and scoring, because teams will start playing him to pass and conceding him shots, much like they once did T.J. But for now he seems mostly intent on finding open teammates, which certainly makes the Bucks' offense more fun to watch and, by the looks of things, more fun to play in.
Defensively it's certainly been a mixed bag. Sessions' defense was a highlight in his early performances against the Knicks and Wizards, but since taking over the starting job his intensity on that end has taken a dive. Bucks fans can only hope it's more a reflection of the team's infectious lack of discipline, rather than Sessions' true colors beginning to show. Given his excellent size (6'3", 195) and defensive reputation in college, the hope is he can figure that end out with proper coaching. And while Sessions' numbers are impressive, the Bucks have now lost seven straight games, a fact worth remembering even though a number of Bucks are injured and a number of others have seemingly checked out already.
Sessions and the Bucks will wrap up the season tomorrow in Minnesota, which will leave new GM John Hammond--who was filmed by the FSN crew chatting with Sessions before yesterday's game--some big decisions about what to do with his backcourt. In interviews thus far, Hammond has pinpointed the guard position as the starting point for building a winning team, not surprising for a man who saw Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton key his Detroit team to seven straight 50-win seasons. And while Hammond has gone out of his way to speak positively about pretty much everyone, he hasn't said much about Williams, who despite having Billups' scoring ability has never shown the leadership and defensive mettle of the Pistons' floor general.
So could the Bucks really have their point guard of the future right under their noses? If Sessions had been a lottery pick, we would likely assume so, but with a late second rounder whose track record in the NBA spans slightly more than a fortnight, cautious optimism is the order of the day. At the very least the Bucks have a very capable backup for 08/09, and at best a whole lot more. Questions about Sessions' decision-making and scoring ability led every other team in the league to pass on him last June, but for now it appears former GM Larry Harris and current Director of Player Personnel Dave Babcock may have unearthed a gem.