Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions, center, drives between Dallas guards… (Max Faulkner / MCT )
Shortly after the morning shoot-around ended Friday, Lakers Coach Mike Brown stood near center court talking at length with guard Ramon Sessions.
Part of that discussion involved what Laker fans have clamored for ever since the team acquired Sessions' last week in a trade with Cleveland. Sessions will become the Lakers' starting point guard beginning tonight at Staples Center against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Brown said "there's a comfort level there with all of us and Sessions," who has averaged 12 points on 56.7% shooting and 5.2 assists in 24.6 minutes per game through his four appearances with the Lakers. "If you talk to him, he'll tell you at the end of the Dallas game when he was on the floor, there was a comfort level that he had out there running the offense."
Sessions provided all of those services off the bench, while Steve Blake assumed the starting position. Brown had called Blake his starting point guard for the "foreseeable future. But he remained scoreless in two of games, went two-of-12 from the field, committed a combined five turnovers and appeared tentative for most of the game. Still, Brown liked how Sessions' quickness and scoring bolstered an inconsistent bench that previously ranked last in the league in points. Blake's deferential nature and reluctance to could've meshed with a starting unit featuring Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. all three whom make up the majority of the Lakers' offense.
Brown said his thought process changed, however, after seeing Sessions' chemistry with the starting unit in the Lakers' 109-93 victory Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks where he posted 17 points and nine assists and logged more minutes (29) than Blake (17). In the Lakers' previous loss Tuesday to Houston, Brown said he elevated Sessions' role late in the game against Houston partly because of his improved chemistry and because Blake had "back spasms." Still, Blake hasn't missed a game and worked with Sessions on free-throw drills at the team's shoot-around.
"It's easier to start him, give him some rest and then give Steve an opportunity to play in between and then finish the half out," Brown said. "It divvies up the minutes a little bit better with him starting and being on the floor as much as he needs to be."
That approach could entail mixing Sessions with both the starters and reserves, so both units benefit from his speed and playmaking ability. Brown also plans to play Blake at backup shooting guard while Sessions runs the point.
Sessions sounded unaware about any of those plans, including becoming a starter.
"It's not one of those things that has been brought up," Sessions said moments before Brown announced he would start. "That's not something I'm worried about. If it comes, it comes. That's one of those things where my career has been kind of like that, in being with that second unit and bringing energy off the bench."
Even if Sessions' quick acclimation gives him a chance to do that in a starting role, he hardly remains satisfied. Though the Lakers had a day off on Thursday, Sessions said he went to the team's facility with four other teammates to work on the offensive playbook because he hasn't fully nailed down his teammates' on-court tendencies.
"It's not where I want it to be yet," Sessions said. "But four games in, learning a new system in the middle of the season, it's up to par. But it could be better."
Brown acknowledged that Sessions' full understanding of the offense will "enhance" the Lakers' ability to run the offense's second and third options. Yet he didn't sound concerned about Sessions' learning curve. Sessions has heeded Brown's instruction to remain aggressive, and his presence alone has already made a difference.
"I need him to trust his instincts first and the sets second," Brown said. "He can be that good. So I want him to have the freedom to go play basketball. Then we'll get a feel for what we're trying to do after that."
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