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Why Scott Skiles Let Sessions Go

Call the site NBA Central for this one.

When today’s signing by the Timberwolves of Milwaukee’s promising young point guard was announced, my first thought was why were the Bucks so uninterested in him?

Some say it was because Ramon and Coach Skiles didn’t always see eye to eye. Just what player(s) does Scott Skiles always see eye-to-eye with? Name one.

It’s true that Sessions is more offensive minded than defensive. It is true that Sessions would rather score than pass. It is true that he makes young player mistakes. So what does Skiles do? He drafts Brandon Jennings, another young point guard that is offensive minded. Jennings prefers scoring to passing. Jennings doesn’t play much defense either. So….what gives?

That required contacting someone closer to the situation. Gery Woelfel, Bucks beat writer for the Racine Journal Times was kind enough to oblige.

The boiled down conversation (paraphrase) went something like this…

“Hey Gery, I’m trying to get a feel for the need for drafting Brandon Jennings, and letting Ramon Sessions walk away Scott free (pun). Sessions looks like a promising young point guard who did fairly well last season under the tutelage of taskmaster Scott Skiles”

I should add that the Bucks have a week to match the offer (4 years for $16 million), but no one feels they will do that.

Gery: Ramon did very well. I really like the kid and think he has a great future.

TH: Then, beside the money angle, what drove the decision to take Jennings and let Sessions walk? They seem to have some similarities as offense first, score first players.

Gery: That is true. They are both that.

TH: Then what does Skiles see in Jennings that he didn’t see in Sessions? Obviously, Jennings has more raw talent overall, being a first round draft choice versus a second rounder who ended up surprising people.

Gery: That has a lot to do with it. I think that Skiles was worried a bit about Sessions ball handling ability, especially under pressure. Ramon is better with one hand than the other, too. Jennings can handle and bring it up under pressure.

TH: Jennings is better bringing the ball up?

Gery: Definitely. He is a better ball handler now and will only get better. As I say, I like Ramon. He is going to have a nice future in the league. He could become one of the league’s top point guards. While Jennings and Sessions both like to shoot, Jennings sees the court better when he does pass.

Thanks to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times for his insight.

Another thing I discovered is that Sessions wasn’t very efficient even at his stength – driving and scoring. NBA HotSpots has him at a below average 52% around the hoop. Make Sessions go right and he is much worse (38%). Even accounting for his getting fouled 4.5 times  a a game, which will increase that efficiency, those numbers should be much better.

The Bucks not only wanted to keep expenses down. They did not want to give a young point guard who has some things to work on, and just one solid year under his belt, a long term deal for something near the MLE (which is what the Sessions camp wanted).

After drafting 19 year old Jennings after he played in Europe last season, Brandon had a solid summer league averaging 8 assists, 14.6 points, 5.3 steals, but 6.2 turnovers (ouch).  Jennings only shot 37% from the field, but 43% from downtown. That is another improvement over Sessions who does not have a viable outside shot.

So the Bucks have a raw, athletic, 6′ 1″, 19 year old with more overall potential and can work him in with veteran Luke Ridnour. All for much less dollars. On top of that he sees the court better even now, and is stronger in bringing it up under pressure. Mystery solved.

The Bucks also brought in 6′ 5″ Euro guard Roko Ukic, who is deceptively quick, defensive minded and has a long wingspan. Maybe Skiles will try to mold him into a Kirk Hinrich type player.

One thing that Sessions is better at right now, is assists to turnovers with a solid 3-1 ratio. and Ramon can score already. He is a quick and natural driver who looks for contact. He dropped 44 on the Pistons last season. He also has the Bucks single game assist record with 24. After what I’ve read about recording assists, maybe we better check that game tape again. Seriously, while not overly creative, Sessions can drive and dish capably.

Kahn Rebounds from Rubio Loss with Sessions Signing

After losing out on Ricky Rubio (for the next two years, at least), David Kahn spun on a dime and signed the best young point guard still available, Milwaukee’s refugee, Ramon Sessions. Not the Clippers, not the Knicks, but the……. Timberwolves?

With some grave Kahn-cerns after failing to Kahn-nect Rubio to the NBA, David’s Kahn-quest of Sessions will make things more interesting in watching a re-Kahnstruction job taking place in Minny. (Someone please help me, I Kahn’t seem to stop.)

I first took real notice of Session in his rookie season when the moribund Bucks played the Celtics twice near the end of the season.

Sessions had just come back from the D-league, where he impressed enough to get the call and the playing time to finish out a terrible Bucks season.

He went for 13 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in 37 minutes against the league’s top defense in his first game. Fluke, right?

They played again again three nights later and Sessions had 8 points, 14 assists, and 5 rebounds in that game. The feeling was…..Who was that guy?

Making his mark as a penetrator, Sessions finished a sophomore campaign with 12.4 points, 5.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds.

With his short comings noted (Ramon’s, not Kahn’s), did Kahn over pay for Sessions? Who was he bidding against? I always ask that question in a situation like this. Only NY was said to have a deal on the table and it was said to be a one year deal – not anywhere near what the Wolves offered.

At any rate, Sessions will get a real chance to play meaningful minutes, at times as a two guard,along side rookie Jonny Flynn. From ESPN’s Chris Sheriden, Kahn says…

“Ramon has the ability to play both guard positions, and thus will be able to complement the members of our current backcourt.”

At 23, Sessions isn’t at all old but, you do wonder how high is up for Ramon. With a rookie head coach in Rambis, a team in rebuild mode, and a rejection by Rubio, Sessions got his money.

He will get the playing time, but will he be getting a good environment for growth? Time will tell.

Thomas Halzack

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