Saturday, July 18, 2009
The Best Free Agent Nobody is Talking About Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
The player movement procession has slowed, as teams wait to see where the big dominoes fall. Where Lamar Odom lands will probably have an impact on the rest of the free agent (or, in Carlos Boozer's case, "available player") pool. In turn, that will determine approximately how much money the spenders have left to fill out their rosters.
Ramon Sessions is waiting for your call. (Gary Dineen/NBA via Getty Images)
Think of a trendy restaurant. Those with reservations get their tables, while the walk-ins cram into the crowded bar area waiting for their names to be called.
But what if one of those walk-ins had the following résumé?
Position: Point Guard
2008-09 PER: 17.65
2008-09 PER as Point Guard: 20.6
2007-08 PER: 16.48
Assist Percentage Ranking (greater than 1500 minutes played): 11th
2-year Adjusted +/-: 4.60 (5th among point guards)
That's what Bucks point guard Ramon Sessions brings to the table after two seasons in the NBA -- more youth and greater efficiency than either Jason Kidd and Mike Bibby, who have already been seated. Rodney Stuckey was born 10 days after Sessions, yet has been anointed as a starter in Detroit with lesser or equal numbers across the board. Sessions has the size and ability to guard both ones and twos, and has demonstrated the capacity to do so.
There are some red flags on Sessions' stat sheet. He isn't yet an efficient outside shooter. He's drained a grand total of nine 3-pointers in his two seasons in the league, which has kept his effective FG percentage down at just below 45 percent -- not so good for a guard. But there's a silver lining here, too. Sessions gets to the line 7.8 times per 36 minutes. Among point guards, only Devin Harris, Chris Paul, and Chauncey Billups top Sessions in this category. This brings his true shooting percentage above 52 percent.
Sessions was drafted No. 56 overall by Milwaukee in 2007-08. After a stint during his rookie season in the D-League, he was called up to the big club and impressed. Milwaukee extended him a qualifying offer of a little more than $1 million. Given the financial state of the Bucks franchise and their selection of Brandon Jennings in last month's draft, it's likely that they'd decline to match a sizable offer for Sessions by another team.
I asked several different basketball people here in Las Vegas who could tell me about Sessions' game, the unanimous response was, "Dan D'Antoni is your man."
D'Antoni, a Knicks assistant, coached Sessions in AAU ball in South Carolina and is one of Sessions' boosters. When we approached D'Antoni in the stands at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas and asked tell us more about Sessions, he enthusiastically agreed. D'Antoni is quite possibly the nicest guy in Clark County right now. When we walked down the bleachers to the corner of the gym, the drone of the PA was loud, and D'Antoni led me to the stairwell, where he could offer his testimony in relative quiet.