Ramon Sessions and Mike Bibby, a second guesser's paradise.

Over at Hawks Str8 Talk, an excellent discussion has been going on over Ramon Sessions' recent offer sheet signing for sixteen million dollars over four years by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Larry summarizes his feelings quite succinctly,

Ramon Sessions signs for 4 years, $16M for the Timberwolves. I am only posting this, so that I have something to reference when either a) Mike Bibby is a situational player or worse for the Hawks in year 2 or year 3 of his current contract at $6M/yr or b) Jeff Teague turns out to either not be useful or simply unable to find great utility as a point guard.

It makes sense, but the more I looked into the idea the more I tend to think the Hawks made the right move. Despite the fact that I think in a quick poll most would side with Larry.

The Sessions legend

Being the only young point guard on the market this summer, Sessions seems to have developed a bit of a legend that after looking at the stats is largely unwarranted. For instance, did you know Sessions played 17 games in his rookie season? 17. He has only played 96 games total. Just started 46 games in the NBA. For a large part of his career, for whatever reason, Ramon Sessions could not beat out Luke Ridnour for the starting role.

Sessions did average 12.5 points and 5.7 assists per game in only 27.5 minutes. Those are decent numbers. But the Bucks were without Michael Redd for most of the season and Andrew Bogut for half of it, and if you watch NBA games, someone is going to score the points. It does not matter how bad they are. The 2004 Hawks didn't average 60 points a game. On that team, Tyronn Lue averaged 13.5 points and 5.4 assists in about 30 minutes of action. 

In a sense, I would be fearful of saying I found the answer at point guard with a guy who only managed 29 minutes and only started half the games for a slightly below average team. Plus, I struggle to see how he would be good enough for the Hawks and not for the Bucks who had no problem looking for an answer in the draft. Four years 16 million is still a decent contract for a backup point guard, but calling him "the answer" would have involved a good deal of risk.

Styles of play

I agree that Mike Bibby's best days are behind him (but those were pretty good days he is declining from), and toward the end of the contract, those glory days may seem further in the rear view mirror, but Bibby did not play good defense last year and 91% of his shots were jumpers. Those are not areas that are going to see huge decline because either they can't (defense) or their effectiveness has nothing to do with age or athleticism (quick release shooting). Mike Bibby actually has a game that is sustainable. So assuming the best he can do is be a situational player is not an inevitable conclusion.

Moreover, Ramon Sessions tends to dominate the ball and is a borderline horrible jump shooter (he shot 17 percent from long range). Well, Joe Johnson dominates the ball for the Hawks and needs jump shooters to create space and provide outlets out of the double team. Not exactly a match made in heaven. And while I think Joe should probably be less of the focal point in the offense, that was going to be one crowded paint area if Sessions was there. When the only guys on your team that can shoot jumpers are Joe Johnson, Mo Evans, and Marvin Williams, any one in the paint is going to see constant double teams.

And I know, of course, stats can prove any argument but for those that think any driving, kicking, scoring PG is more effective than one who can run the offense and shoot would be troubled to know that the Hawks baskets off assists actually go up 11% from 48 to 59 percent with Bibby on the floor

Also, everyone knows Bibby scored almost 15 points a game and had five assists right?

Jeff Teague

Our first round draft pick is more athletic, faster, and has a better jump shot than Ramon Sessions. He also had a better resume coming out of college. What Ramon Sessions has is almost a 100 more games in the league and the ability to have average stats on a below average team. Jeff Teague has shown the ability to hit the three point shot and drive past anyone. His potential is the best of both worlds.

If Jeff Teague is a bust, the Hawks don't have a future point guard. But I would not be satisfied if Ramon Sessions was our future point guard. Above average starting point guards are sought after, Ramon Sessions was sought after by the media because there was nothing else to cover. Plenty of teams need point guards and none felt Sessions was worth signing to an offer sheet. In three years, Sessions may be a better bet for the Hawks than Teague but that does not make him the answer. He would have to improve a good deal to be that, and right now, I would take Teague, a man with a far greater upside, being mentored by a veteran point guard and a year or two to grow into the NBA game in the development race.

What do you think? Sessions vs. Bibby and Teague. Let's find Ramon a partner and make this a cage mask.

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