Now that the Lakers’ season is long-gone (/cries), it only makes sense to review the Lakers, player-by-player. So that’s what we’ll do, just for the fun of it.
First, let’s break down and review — with letter grades — what seems like the most deficient group of players in Los Angeles: The backcourt.
Ramon Sessions: C-
Depending on how you look at it, Ramon Sessions wasn’t anywhere near as good as we expected him to be. After exploding onto the scene in Los Angeles, namely after a 20-point 11-assist performance in his first start with LA. He was an easy upgrade from beloved, but really terrible, point guard, Derek Fisher.
And then Ramon stopped pushing the pace and stopped playing aggressively, and then all of a sudden, he was no better than Derek Fisher was. He lost his three-point shot, his penetration hurt his ability to help create shots for others, and the high pick-and-roll (something the Lakers haven’t had since, like, 1985) became nearly obsolete.
Of course, a lot of this has to do with the poor offensive gameplan of Mike Brown, which seemed incredibly Kobe-centric late in games, and which also emphasized a slow-down half-court offense, hindering Ramon’s ability to work on the fastbreak.
And in the playoffs? It got worse, and while Ramon wasn’t brought for defense, he got consistently burned by Russell Westbrook during the Oklahoma City Thunder series, and was subbed out for Steve Blake late because Sessions just can’t shoot (or couldn’t, when the regular season ended).
Ramon’s future with L.A. is hanging in the balance, since he has a player option in his contract, and if Ramon decides to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent, then it won’t be a huge blow to LA.
But it’d be nice for Ramon to come back, and let L.A. develop a more cohesive offensive scheme rather than one put together in two weeks, as was the case with the lockout.
Steve Blake: F+
(“They don’t give out F+’s in school!” Shut up, man. Get out of my face.)
When Derek Fisher left, the Lakers’ fan-base was shocked that Blake got to stay while the unanimous leader of the locker room was shipped out.
Of course, Steve Blake became D-Fish’s freaking carbon copy, in so, so many ways.
And I can’t tell if that’s a good or bad thing.
Because Steve Blake is terrible. His defense, as hard as he tries, is pretty damn nonexistent. He can’t keep up with quick point guards, can’t seem to fight through screens correctly, he’s not strong to try and play physically with the any of the league’s top 20 point men.
Offensively? He’s frustrating, to say the least. The way Blake has played, you’d think that an entry pass to a big man on the block would be the most difficult thing in basketball. He has no business being a ball-handler.
So then why the “+”? Because in the fourth, Steve Blake went Derek Fisher on us, playing major roles in come-from-behind wins late in the season and knocking down clutch shots in the first and second rounds of the NBA playoffs. Sure, he missed a wide-open jumper to completely change the dynamic of the series against OKC, but given his string of successes prior to that shot, it wasn’t a poor decision. Late in games, Blake proved himself worthy of at least staying on the team, so we aren’t too bitter that he’ll be back in 2012-13.
We just wish he wouldn’t play as much as he has.
Darius Morris: D
Morris didn’t get a lot of playing time after Mike Brown decided to give him a shot at point guard, prior to Ramon Sessions coming to L.A. In that time, Darius Morris proved to be a very active guard with a hell of a lot of confidence.
Too much confidence, even.
He was incredibly erratic and he dribbled for far longer than any NBA point guard ever should. While he had some nice moments, it’s clear that he needs a long way to go to be considered a finished product. Sloppy play at that position in an offense where ball domination seems to be the main focus (sorry, Mike Brown) is disastrous.
Morris can figure it out, though. If he works hard and calms down when in game situations, he can be Andre Miller, given his physical ability and craftiness in college.
Entire Point Guard Core Grade: D-
The point guard position was one which needs to be addressed heavily, and it’s one that the Lakers haven’t needed with Phil Jackson’s triangle offense implemented. Now that L.A. has moved to a more traditional offense, point guards that can play in pick-and-roll situations are a necessity. Ramon Sessions needs to improve greatly and become a more consistent player, and if he deos, he’ll fit in quite nicely.
If not? He should be relegated to the bench.
Note: Andrew Goudelock will be part of the “Shooting Guards” grading, due to the rotations that Mike Brown stupidly put out on the floor.