The Houston Rockets and free agent point guard Ramon Sessions have shown mutual interest in the past few days according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. With the Rockets’ thin bench and their precarious situation with the amount of serviceable and proven point guards on the roster, this news couldn’t have come at a better time, as they could use a guy like Sessions to help anchor the bench unit.
Patrick Beverley is the only NBA-caliber point guard on the roster, and thanks to his injury concerns, can’t be counted on the play the full season without having some sort of backup plan in place. Last year, that was Jeremy Lin, but now that he has been traded for virtually nothing, the Rockets are left without a legitimate backup should Beverley go down again.
The Rockets can’t afford to give Sessions the money he is looking for as a free agent. Houston only has $2.07 million biannual exception to use on top of the league minimum, however the Rockets can still work a sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s not yet clear what Milwaukee will want in return; what is clear is that the Bucks have a lot of players to play point guard and don’t need Sessions one bit.
Between Brandon Knight, Nate Wolters, Jerryd Bayless and Kendall Marshall, the Bucks don’t have a lot of room for Sessions there. Thus, it makes a lot of sense for Milwaukee to sign-and-trade Sessions to the highest (or only) bidder in Houston. The good news for the Rockets is that Milwaukee is a rebuilding squad that could use draft assets more than actual players in a Sessions trade. If that’s the case, Houston won’t have to send back any salary, and can use their $8.4 million dollar trade exception to take Sessions off of the Bucks hands without giving up much.
But this raises the question: is Sessions a good fit in Houston? Here are his career numbers:
And here are his advanced numbers:
Sessions is not a player who can stretch the floor; he’s a shaky shooter at best, evidenced by his career 31.1 percent shooting from deep and the fact that he attempts less than one three-pointer per game. What Sessions does provide is the ability to get to the line, averaging a career 4.4 free throw attempts per game, while hitting 80 percent of them. Sessions is not the greatest distributor either, as he is only averaging a career 4.7 assists per game, however he can create a lot of offensive opportunities with his speed, ball handling and his dribble penetration.
Sessions’ specialty is scoring, despite not being a good shooter, and he isn’t extremely turnover prone, holding a career 30.6 percent assist percentage to a 14.9 percent turnover percentage. Much like the majority of Houston’s players, Sessions doesn’t provide a whole lot of defense, as he has only accumulated 5.4 Defensive Win Shares (DWS), but he does provide quite a bit of offense, and his career 16.7 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is impressive.
Sessions is also used to coming off of the bench, averaging 25.8 minutes per game for his career, and starting only 127 games of the 467 games he has played in the NBA. Sessions is a slasher in every sense of the word, and will look to wreak havoc on a defense with ball penetration. It really helps that he is a very good finisher at the rim.
Sessions is not going to fix all of Houston’s woes, but it’s a start. It gives Houston a very adept replacement for Lin off of the bench, as they both play a similar style of basketball. It also gives them insurance in case of Beverley getting hurt again. And, considering the other free agent point guard options, Sessions is the best player the Rockets could realistically acquire without making a drastic trade.
While most of the bench will need someone else to help them offensively, Sessions does not. He can create his own shot, but creating for others has always been a bit of a problem for him because Sessions is merely average as a distributor, mostly passing his way out of bad situations in the paint, and rarely is he actively looking to set up teammates. His role within the offense should be to get into the paint as much as possible and to help the bench’s offense so that James Harden and Dwight Howard can get some rest. What Sessions does not give them is defense, which they desperately need.
Sessions would be a good fit for Houston. He would provide much-needed depth and a scoring punch off of the bench that Houston desperately needs without Lin. A deal isn’t imminent yet, but if Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey wants his team to potentially contend for a title, he needs to go after Sessions aggressively.