Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Point

If I told you that there was a point guard out there who, when given 40 minutes of starter’s PT, averages 16 points, 9.5 assists (with a 3.1 assist to turnover ratio), 1.7 steals and 4.5 rebounds, all on 45 percent shooting, you’d say those are all-star worthy numbers, especially in the East.*

Well, you might be surprised that this dude was coming off the bench and only getting 15 minutes a game. So who was starting in front of him? Chris Paul? Deron Williams? Tony Parker? Uh, try Luke Ridnour.

Now, those numbers aren’t rounded per 40 minutes, those are actual game time 40 minute numbers. His name is Ramon Sessions, and if you don’t remember a 5 game stretch last April during which dude averaged 14 points and 15 dimes on 50 percent shooting, then you obviously weren’t playing fantasy basketball. I picked him up and then dropped him and nearly lost my league’s championship due to that stupid move.

Well, this year, against Detroit this past Saturday, due dropped 44 points and 12 dimes on 72 percent shooting.

Never understood why Milwaukee went out and traded for Luke Ridnour this past offseason. I get why they traded away Mo Williams. Big contract, injury prone, wasn’t known to play defense, and Sessions seemed to be a big time talent ready to take over. But, looking at how well Williams has been playing (big time all-star snub) this season, seems like Damon Jones, Ridnour and Adrian Griffin is a ho hum package.

Ridnour’s played pretty well this year. He’s hit some big shots, but Sessions is the real deal and should have been manning the point all season long. Over the next four weeks, with Ridnour sidelined, the Bucks will get to see a whole bunch of Sessions. He’s got to work on a consistent J, but he’s great at getting to the hole and finds open men.

* * *
I know it’s only over the course of 6 games, but anyone who still doesn’t believe Deron Williams is at least on par with Chris Paul, better do a double take. Finally starting to show his health after playing most of the season on a still recovering ankle, Deron has gradually played himself into his MVP caliber form.

In the new year, Deron’s averaging 23 points, 10.3 dimes and 3 boards on a scalding 49 percent shooting. Chris Paul’s at 22, 11 and 5.4 on 50 percent. Paul’s been better, but no question there is a legitimate debate there.
* * *
Sometimes a new coach and a little bit of freedom is all a guard needs to take off. The Grizz have most assuredly been boosted by the return of Darko Milicic (only two of Memphis’ 15 victories have come without the big Serb), but it’s been a loosening of the reigns by new head coach Lionel Hollins that has helped starting guard Mike Conley Jr. take that next step a lot of us bball freaks thought he would take this year.

After a shaky first game with Hollins at the helm, Conley’s really responded to more freedom posting 13.6 points, 6.4 assists and 4.4 boards on 44 percent shooting over the past 7 games. The most important stat, 4 of those games ended in Grizzlies’ wins.
* * *
Another example of setting a point guard free can be seen on the Dallas Mavericks. At the end of last month, coach Rick Carlisle told Kidd to be more aggressive and stopped calling plays for the 14-year, surefire hall of fame veteran. The result? A 5-1 record against some pretty good teams—Orlando, Portland, and Miami. The results shouldn’t be surprising, least of all to Mavericks brass, who, according to owner Mark Cuban’s blog, have J-Kidd rated as the second most productive player behind only Lebron James based on the Mavs’ own enhanced and complicated player and team evaluation system.

No disrespect for Mr. Trip Dub, but any system that evaluates team and player stats and comes out with J-Kidd as the second highest rated player in the league has a LOT more tweaking to do before it gets it right. Just for the record, Kobe Bryant is 15th on the list, behind border all-stars like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and luminary talents like…er, Randy Foye.

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