So far during preseason, Mike Dunlap has been experimenting with a lot of different lineups. Most reports say Dunlap wants to get a feel for his personel and feels this will be the most efficient way to do so. Theoretically each spot in the Bobcats starting lineup is fair game for competition. I’d wager that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist might actually have the safest starting job right now at small forward.
But one storyline that could develop this season is at point guard. Kemba Walker is likely the starting point guard on opening night for the team. He was a high draft pick last year and the team believes he has tremendous upside as a scoring point guard. However, Ramon Sessions could bring a different and more preferrable element, and that’s a great thing for Kemba, and the team.
Since being drafted 56th overall in 2007, Sessions has been a respectable NBA rotation player. He has a 16.7 career PER, with averages of 11ppg, 5ast, and 3reb. The catch though is Sessions has never been a starting point guard until last season in LA after the trade deadline. Sessions played well with the Lakers in the regular season, but struggled in the playoffs. The Lakers though didn’t want to commit long-term to him and preferred Steve Nash to help them win a championship this upcoming season.
On paper, the Bobcats signing Sessions to a two-year, $10M deal in the offseason was a good move. Sessions provides value to the Bobcats on the court by being able to ease the pressure off Kemba, as well as help him mature in his ability to run a team. He’s an above-average facilitator and his jumpshot has improved in the past couple of seasons. It’s realistic to believe he’ll see time in both backcourt spots this year. Off the court, Sessions is a short-term contract that any team looking for point guard help will be drawn to, especially contenders.
But the most important thing is how much Sessions can challenge Kemba and be a critical part of his development. Kemba looked rattled a lot last season playing on a disorganized team, where games often were over in the first three minutes of the game. Having Sessions behind Kemba is going to be a lot different than having an Cory Higgins back there, or the shell of what D.J. Augustin used to be. Sessions provides reliability, a positive veteran presence, and a productive facilitator that could help Mike Dunlap and his new up-tempo offense. This is the appeal he brought to the Lakers at last year’s trade deadline.
Whether Sessions starts over Walker at any point in the season doesn’t matter. I could understand why that would ruffle some feathers among Bobcats fans though. But all that matters is Kemba is challenged by Sessions in some sort of way. Not all young point guards had, or needed experienced point guards to help them develop, but it’s never a bad thing.