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Five ways Ramon Sessions has benefited the Lakers

March 23, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Lakers guard Ramon Sessions has positively helped the Lakers in many ways
Lakers guard Ramon Sessions has positively helped the Lakers in many ways (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Even if Ramon Sessions has only provided a four-game sample size, it's safe to make a few conclusions about his 12 points on 56.7% shooting and six assists in 25 minutes.

1. The Lakers execute their offense with faster efficiency. The Lakers appear far more prolific in running pick-and-roll sets. According to Synergy Sports Technology, the Lakers generated only 10.9% of their offense through P&Rs before Sessions' arrival. Since then, Sessions runs the offense through pick-and-rolls on 53.4% of his possessions and converts on 52.4% of those plays. 

The same difference applies to the Lakers' transition game. Before Sessions' arrival, the Lakers' fast-break points only represented 9% of their offense. When Sessions is on the floor, 24.4% of his points come in transition. Sessions' quick speed and sharp execution on pick-and-rolls has bolstered the Lakers offense so much that Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe calculates the Lakers have averaged 114 points per 100 possessions, the highest mark in the NBA.

2. Kobe Bryant gets easier shots. Just before the All-Star break last month, Bryant lamented how the surrounding talent and the current offensive system made him work too hard for points. Not anymore. According to NBA.com, Bryant has shot 46% when Sessions is on the floor and only 33% when he's not playing. The improved shooting accuracy simply points to Bryant working more on the wing and off the ball than remaining the team's primary ballhandler. Because of that difference, Bryant finds more catch-and-shoot opportunities in rhythm instead of running isolation sets.

3. Matt Barnes has become a reliable bench option. His 12 points per game average on 48% shooting in the past four games isn't a fluke. His constant slashing to the basket and off-ball cutting opens Barnes up for scoring opportunities. Sessions simply finds him. But this isn't anything new. Steve Blake found Barnes open as well with remarkable efficiency. But here's what's different. Barnes has also generated offense through his outside shooting, going eight-of-17 from three-point range since Sessions' arrival. His three-point shooting had been his weak link for most of the season. But Sessions' presence has helped mitigate that because his spacing and quick passing throws the defense off-balance more often. That gives Barnes more open shots with better rhythm.

4. The Lakers' three-point shooting has improved. Barnes isn't the only one who's improved his outside shooting since Barnes' arrival. Bryant's nine of 23 mark from three-point range is a drastic improvement to his season-average of 29.4% from downtown. In three of the past four games, the Lakers collectively have shot at least 50% from downtown, a big improvement from their season average (31.2%). Considering how this area remained one of their weakest links, sustaining such a mark will keep the floor more balanced and make it easier to establish their inside game.

5. Pau Gasol's hitting his mid-range jumper. The Lakers need to feature Gasol more on the block. But for now, Gasol has proved reliable on connecting on his mid-range game. Seven of his 13 field goals Wednesday against Dallas all came from within 15 feet, while Gasol's 10 field goals Tuesday against Houston all featured mid-range jumpers. Considering Andrew Bynum's continual adjustment against double teams, Gasol's mid-range shots have proved a trusty option to lean on during Sessions' acclimation.

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