The Wizards desperately needed to get John Wall some help with a younger, more athletic backup off the bench. They got that done on “deadline day” with a deal that sends veteran Andre Miller to Sacramento for Ramon Sessions. It is tough to say goodbye to Miller’s professionalism and intelligence, but he was a liability against younger athletic guards, and the tempo flatlined with him in the game.
Sessions will penetrate and create for others on the Wizards second unit. He can also play with Wall. But his defense has been in question with the Kings, if you buy into the analytics. And like Miller, he won’t be knocking down three pointers. The move actually saves the Wizards money in the process, and they get Sessions at a reasonable rate for next season ($2.17M). It also keeps a roster spot open for the Wizards if someone gets bought out that fits a need, or if Ray Allen graces us with his presence.
Let me be clear: Sessions is far from a sure thing. He was hitting career lows this season with the Kings in points-per-game, assists, field goal percentage and minutes. The belief from the Wizards is the move will rejuvenate his game.
“Washington is a great situation for Ramon,” Sessions’ agent Jared Karnes told USA Today. “He’s obviously looking forward to going to the playoffs. He has a contract year coming up and this gives him a chance shake things up and be part of a playoff team. Ramon appreciated his time in Sacramento and wishes them success.”
Sessions should also benefit from getting more minutes with the Wizards. Coach Randy Wittman has no choice but to trust he’s getting the best from Sessions and let him play and lead the second unit. Wall needs a break, and Bradley Beal is still out (and likely on a ‘minutes limit’ when he does return to the floor). So Sessions will need to literally “hit the court running” for the Wizards to be a success in the final 28-games.
However, he won’t make or break the Wizards in their post-season push. Washington needs to get a healthy Beal back on the court. Then they need to get Beal back to the level of last year’s playoffs. If not, they have little hope at making a real push as Eastern Conference contenders.
They also need to get Marcin Gortat playing more consistently. The numbers do lie with Gortat. He’s not the same prescience he was a year ago and is losing crunch-time minutes to Kris Humphries. It is not just a Gortat and Beal issue though. Nene needs to be more consistent, and if Paul Pierce has another gear he needs to use it in the coming months.
The Wizards are still a deficient three-point shooting team, thanks in part to Martell Webster’s struggles to come back from his off-season back surgery. Rasual Butler, Pierce, and Beal are the only reliable 3-point shooters on the roster. The Wizards will need to play inside-out to be successful on offense. That is where they present the most matchup issues for teams with Nene, Gortat, Humphries, and Seraphin.
One of the benefits of the Sessions deal is they now have two point guards that can penetrate and create. It will also be interesting to see if Sessions can take some of the pressure off Wall in late game situations if Wittman puts them on the floor together. Defensively, the Wizards have to continue lock-in. When they lock in defensively, there are more opportunities for transition buckets.
The Wizards will have some big tests right away, starting with the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, at Detroit this Sunday to face a retooled Pistons team, and then back at home Tuesday with the NBA’s best team – the Golden State Warriors and the ‘Splash Brothers.’ The Wizards better hit the ground running, because the tough part of the NBA season is about to start.