Sessions embraces mentor role with Bucks
MILWAUKEE — Ramon Sessions is the type of player that often times goes unnoticed during games. There’s usually a whole lot of surprise when the box score reveals the real impact he had.
The veteran point guard’s second stint with the Milwaukee Bucks is following a similar path to the rest of his career — quietly making a difference.
Despite going from a team headed for the playoffs to one destined for the lottery when he was traded from Charlotte to Milwaukee, Sessions has embraced his role as a veteran leader in the Bucks’ locker room.
"It’s gone well," Sessions said of the transition. "I pretty much know my role now. I know what they need me to do. Guys are willing to learn. I like the youth and the talent here. I think the sky is the limit if we just keep working together and growing as a team."
It didn’t take Sessions long to gain respect from his teammates. Struggling to adapt to the trade that sent away someone he considered a friend and mentor in Luke Ridnour, 19-year-old rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo has quickly taken to Sessions.
"Ramon is just really textbook," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "I saw him pull Giannis to the side (during a shell drill during practice) and just show him how to do it from a technique standpoint. Just picking out little things. I can see Ramon has really embraced our group.
Fellow rookie Nate Wolters has already picked Sessions’ brain about how he gets to the free-throw line so much.
"That’s just so, so smart of Nate to do," Drew said. "The hard part is not getting here, it’s staying here. When you can take something from a veteran player’s game and incorporate it into your game, I think that’s a smart thing to do."
Even though he’s only 27 years old and in his seventh NBA season, Sessions carries himself as a professional and is willing to share his knowledge with interested young players. As the Bucks have learned, veterans like that aren’t easy to find.
Milwaukee’s second-round pick in 2007, Sessions made an impression with the franchise in the two years he spent with the Bucks before heading to Minnesota as a free agent.
"When I was here my first year I had no clue what was going on," Sessions said. "I was the young guy. To come back here in a role I saw others play for me is an honor. I’m definitely embracing that role.
"It shows you how much I grew in the league, from where I started to where I am now. Other guys paved the way for me and I’m looking to do the same."
Sessions’ value has not been limited to the locker room, as he’s performed quite well on the court in 11 games with the Bucks. He’s averaging 12.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 24.6 minutes per game off the bench, teaming up with Brandon Knight and Wolters to form a three-guard rotation.
He’s gotten to the line 5.5 times per game with the Bucks, a number that would place him ninth in the league among guards if he had enough attempts to qualify. His 90.0 percent free-throw percentage with Milwaukee would be good for third in the NBA.
"Ramon has to be top five as far as guards that have that ability to get to that free-throw line when they drive it," Drew said. "He knows how to draw the contact. A lot of guards that drive it, they look to finish a lot. It’s finish first, look for the foul second. It’s the complete opposite for Ramon. He’s looking for the contact first, then he finishes."
Sessions hasn’t always had the knack of getting to the line. It took time to learn the tricks of the trade, something he’s begun to pass along to Wolters and others.
"As my career has gone it’s been more consistent with me getting to the line," Sessions said. "It’s one of those things with me attacking the basket and hopefully I get the whistle.
"And lately as a veteran they’ve been giving (the whistle) to me a little more, But guys have been fouling because I’ve been attacking so much. Just keep attacking, really."
Knight and Sessions have been successful playing together, as both guards actively look to break down the defense by getting into the paint and aggressively attacking the hoop.
Drew has noticed a comfort level with both Wolters and Knight playing alongside Sessions and said Thursday he plans to stick with the three-guard rotation even if it means leaving O.J. Mayo as the odd man out.
"I think the defense definitely has to honor the fact that we can both penetrate and really suck the defense in," Knight said of playing with Sessions. "I think it definitely adds a different dynamic to our team when we’re both on the court at the same time."
Sessions is in the final year of a two-year, $10 million contract he signed with the Bobcats in 2012 and has an uncertain future with the Bucks. Knight, Wolters and Mayo are all under contract for next season, but Sessions wouldn’t mind being a part of the rebuilding project in Milwaukee.
"Hopefully I am here," Sessions said. "Who knows what happens in the summertime, but I like the talent, I like our guys working. Guys are listening and trying to get better. I think if we keep building we’ll be fine."
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