Los Angeles Lakers: 2011-12 Report Card

2011-12 Report Card: Ramon Sessions

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
9:43
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Only in the anticipation his arrival would usher in a Technicolor world of fast break awe and pick and roll wonder were there big hopes and expectations for Ramon Sessions in Los Angeles.

Overstatement, sure, but lack of production at the point guard position was unquestionably a millstone hanging off the neck of L.A.'s offense earlier in the season. In previous ones, too, but then the diminished role of point guards in Phil Jackson's offense mitigated some of the issues. In Mike Brown's more traditional, pick-and-roll system the Lakers badly needed a quicker 1 capable of turning the corner, finishing at the rim, and creating shots for others. Improvement was mandatory if the Lakers were to have any chance of a deep playoff run.

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It was in that context -- a solution to a crippling weakness -- Sessions was acquired, hence the high hopes. Nor was there much time for transition. Following the deadline day deal with Cleveland marking his arrival, the Lakers quickly needed Sessions to translate the production he'd shown in more limited roles on lesser teams into games with much more significance. At the same time, his new teammates would need to learn how to play with a ball dominant point guard (something on which only partial progress was ultimately made).

After kicking things off with a bang, arguably raising the bar to unrealistic levels, Sessions cooled off considerably in the playoffs. Like so much else in the 2011-12 season for the Lakers, Sessions provided good moments and bad, and raised a few questions going forward.

STATS

23 games, 30.5 minutes: 12.7 points, 6.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 47.9 FG%, 48.6 3-point %.

HIGHLIGHTS

Sessions scored 13 seconds into his Lakers career, with a burst of speed that left a palpable buzz in the Staples Center crowd, and it was instantly clear his speed added a dimension the Lakers hadn't seen in a while. His second game with L.A. was significant, when Sessions managed to score 10 points despite missing six of seven shots from the floor because he attacked enough to earn 10 free throws. Before his arrival, it might take three or four games for Lakers PG's to rack up 10 FTA's. In consecutive mid-March games against Dallas and Portland, Sessions hit 13 of 18 shots for 37 points, racked up 20 assists, and eight rebounds. In six games between March 31st and April 7th, Sessions averaged nine dimes per.

Just as important, Sessions, who had posted the best 3-point shooting numbers of his career* in Cleveland this year before the trade, continued punishing teams for ducking under screens and daring him to pull the trigger. He drilled nearly half of his triple attempts with the Lakers.

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2011-12 Report Card: Devin Ebanks

May, 27, 2012
5/27/12
8:35
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Coaches frequently note the difficulty rotating three players through one position during a game. There just aren't enough minutes available. For the Lakers, who had Metta World Peace and Matt Barnes as the primary small forwards, it's particularly true because Kobe Bryant gets time at the 3, as well.

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However, when injuries occur coaches often avoid disrupting their rotation by elevating that player's backup to starting status.

Put this pair of truisms together, and you get the 2011-12 season for Devin Ebanks. He appeared in only 24 of 66 games -- between Jan. 3 and April 6 (34 games) Ebanks played a total of five minutes -- but started 12 of the 24 regular season games in which he saw action (including the first four of the season when he briefly won the job out of training camp) -- and six of seven during the playoffs. It's a very all-or-nothing existence, and for a second-year player working to establish himself in the league, not the easiest way to play.

STATS

24 games, 16.5 minutes per game. Four points, 2.3 rebounds, 41.6 percent from the floor.


HIGHLIGHTS

As as starter -- seven games at shooting guard, five as a small forward -- Ebanks averaged 6.4 points, 3.2 rebounds (including 1.4 on the offensive end), nearly one assist, and half a block in 24 minutes. Not prodigious numbers by any stretch, but not bad either for a guy getting his first real experience against first-unit NBA competition. He scored 12 points with four rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting against Phoenix on April 7, and was 7 of 11 for 14 points against Sacramento in the regular season finale. In the playoff opener against Denver, Ebanks missed only once in six tries en route to 12 points and grabbed five boards in only 19 minutes, becoming one of the "wild cards" George Karl hoped to avoid as the Lakers took Game 1.

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2011-12 Report Card: Jordan Hill

May, 25, 2012
5/25/12
6:37
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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If it wasn't for a 2 a.m. phone call from Mike Brown to Jordan Hill late in the season after the Lakers had their doors blown off by San Antonio, Hill might never have been given the opportunity to show his stuff for the purple and gold.

"I was definitely surprised," Hill said after his exit interview this week, recalling the moment that changed his fate with the franchise. "We talked a little bit and he said we need a little more scoring in the second half. More rebounding. More energy. So, I just stayed ready and the next game against Oklahoma, I just went out there and did what I had to do and kept going with it."

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Hill rewarded Brown's trust with 14 points and 15 rebounds in the Lakers' 114-106 double overtime victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder and suddenly, after sitting on the bench nursing a sore right knee for the first month of his Lakers' career, Hill was thrust into the role of the team's first big man off the bench for the playoffs.

STATISTICS

4.7 points per game, 46.7 percent shooting, 62.5 percent free throw shooting, 4.4 rebounds, 0.9 blocks in 11.7 minutes over seven games played.

HIGHLIGHTS

Hill followed up his surprise performance against the Thunder with two more double-doubles in the first round of the playoffs against Denver -- 10 points and 10 points in Game 1 and 12 points and 11 rebounds in Game 4. The Lakers won both games. Nuggets coach George Karl dubbed Hill a "wild card" and really, when you think about just how close the L.A.-Denver series ended up being, Hill's contributions just might have pushed the Lakers over the top over the course of seven games.

Hill ended up averaging better numbers in 12 postseason games with the Lakers (4.8 points, 6.3 rebounds) than he did in seven regular season games. It was a nice little run for Hill, considering he was playing in the first playoffs of his three-year career.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.5
BlocksE. Davis 1.2