How's this for rookie progress: after starting his season winning NBDL Rookie of the Week honors with the Tulsa 66ers, Ramon Sessions finished the year with the Milwaukee Bucks as April's Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month. In the West, second overall draft pick Kevin Durant won. Sessions was chosen 56th.
In what can only be described as a major hit to the "rookie wall" theory, Sessions just kept on getting better this year, culminating in a final three games in which he averaged 19.0 points, 17.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals.
The award isn't the only attention he's attracting either.
NBDL President Dan Reed proudly blogs about Sessions, noting how the Nevada alum is the first former D-League player to win a monthly award in the NBA, and how the point guard credited the D-League with helping to prepare him for the next level. Good stuff.
Ramon is the first former D-League player to win a Rookie of the Month award in the NBA, but surely not the last, because NBA teams are increasingly sending their rookies to the D-League to help accelerate their development. This season, a whopping 32% of the 2007 NBA Draft Class played in the NBA D-League this year. That's 19 out of 60, and is up from the 25% clip we've seen for the two previous seasons. That includes one Ramon Sessions, who has perhaps made the most rapid NBA impact of a D-League player this year.
Reed also references a Gilbert Arenas blog entry in which Agent Zero gave a three-paragraph shout-out to his 'D-League friend.'
That’s amazing what Sessions did, truly. You look at the best guards in the league – Chris Paul is up for MVP, and he hasn’t done that this year. Deron Williams – nope. Steve Nash – nope. My man, El Calderon – nope. But here you have a guy who was in the D-League who really had to work his way up into the NBA and he ends his rookie year by dropping 20 and 24.
There's more: Sessions cracks NBA.com's Dave McMenamin's Final Rookie Rankings top ten list, the only point guard to do so. Yes, in 17 games, he beat out fourth overall pick Mike Conley, who played 53 games, and 11th draft choice Acie Law, who payed 56 games.
Additional point guards taken ahead of Sessions in the draft? Javaris Crittenton, Aaron Brooks, Petteri Kopponen, Gabe Pruitt, Jared Jordan, and Taurean Green.
Granted, two weeks does not a great career make. But the fact we are even mentioning Sessions in the same breath as lottery picks like Conley and Law is against the odds. The notion that a second round pick impressed enough to outplay them despite a rollercoaster season that took him from Milwaukee to Tulsa to the injury report to the starting backcourt is almost impossible to believe.