Despite struggles, Ramon Sessions valuable to Kings
If society functioned under mob rule, Ramon Sessions would be tarred and feathered. The Sacramento Kings backup point guard has been a target of criticism for his poor play, and a scapegoat for the team’s recent 2-7 slide.
When Sessions is on the floor this season, it seems he’s in another plane of reality. The 28-year-old is averaging a career-low six points on 34.5 percent shooting, 2.4 assists and half a steal in 17.1 minutes per game. He’s tying a career-worst rate with three turnovers per 36 minutes. A career 11.5 points per game scorer, Sessions has only reached double-digit totals five times in 22 appearances. His defense has time and time again allowed penetrators to waltz to the paint.
Fans have pleaded for 2013 second round pick Ray McCallum to steal Sessions’ minutes, but head coach Michael Malone still stands by the veteran.
“I think Ramon has shown at different times this year going back to preseason but as well as games in Dallas, games in New Orleans, even I think it might have been the Indiana game at home where he’s come in and done a good job with that second unit,” Malone told reporters on Friday. “Running the team, scoring. Our second unit has a hard time scoring the basketball. At times, if Carl’s not going especially, Derrick Williams has given us a great lift recently, but Ramon is a proven scorer in the NBA that I still trust.”
At his best, Sessions is a slasher who can get to the free throw line and dish to open shooters. At his worst, poor decisions make him a liability as an offensive orchestrator.
This season has featured more of the latter, as Sessions’ floaters and jumpers seem to be allergic to the net. The free agent who signed a two-year, $4 million deal in September acknowledges there is more he can do when shots fail to fall.
“Just gotta get guys involved,” Sessions told Cowbell Kingdom on Thursday. “When your shot comes, just be able to knock it down, and if it’s not going, just keep getting the team running and the team rhythm.”
Looking back, it’s ironic to think there were internal discussions whether to start Sessions or Darren Collison at the point in training camp. Sessions won’t be starting games any time soon unless Collison goes down with an injury, but the reserve is actually quite happy where he is.
“I wouldn’t say it’s harder (coming off the bench), I’d almost think it’s easier, (because) you’re going to get to see the flow of the game a little bit more, see what teams are doing, and kind of see how the game is being played, how it’s being called, Sessions noted. “I think it’s more of an advantage. It’s something I’ve been doing for a while and feel comfortable doing. I just feel like it’s an advantage more than a disadvantage.”
Before joining Sacramento, Sessions worked for six different teams in eight NBA seasons. He’s played alongside Kobe Bryant and studied under coaches Scott Skiles, Byron Scott and Steve Clifford. Sessions has a firm understanding of the game of basketball which he’s thankful for.
“It’s been a blessing to be honest,” Sessions admitted. “I’ve been on a lot of teams, but it’s been a blessing for me to be still playing eight years later. I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve made a lot of good relationships. A lot of different teams, I played for a lot of different coaches and a lot of different styles. It’s something I can take with me down the road.”
More importantly, Sessions is willing to share that knowledge. Not a vocal leader by any means, Kings players come to the oldest point guard on the team for tips.
“You have guys that come to you for questions. It’s one of those things where I’m not the most talkative guy. I’m not going to just go out there and be like, ‘This is what it is. This is what it is.’ If somebody asks me something, I definitely fill them in, and if somebody’s doing something wrong, I fill them in.”
Nevertheless, Sessions’ impact off the floor won’t excuse his recent disasters on it. The journeyman feels no urgency to step up his play, as he’s experienced similar slumps before in his well-traveled career.
“The season’s so long, it’s a lot of up and downs in the NBA season, just gotta keep working and eventually it’ll come. It’s nothing that you panic about.”
Unbeknownst to Sessions, time isn’t on his side with the Kings. He’ll need to revert to form soon or he’ll start to lose minutes, or worse, his job.