By Josh Flagner
Cleveland Cavaliers fans will forever look upon the lockout shortened 2011-12 NBA season as the beginning of a new dawn of Cavalier basketball. The team and its fans have survived the tumultuous sunset of the LeBron era in Cleveland and have woken up from the never-ending night of last season’s 26 game losing streak.
The help the Kyrie and Tristan will get in the 2012 NBA Draft will be marquee, especially after the trade that sent back up point guard Ramon Sessions and wing Christian Eyenga to the Los Angeles Lakers the basketball of equivalent of filler meat (Luke Walton and already waived Jason Kapono) and a 2012 first round draft pick.
After Sessions’ last foray in the Wine and Gold, there was only one player left on the roster that could connect one of my favorite Cavaliers to the team I watch every night. That player is – was – much maligned 7-footer Ryan Hollins.
The favorite player that Hollins kept me connected with is current Dallas Maverick fireball Delonte West. Back in July of 2010 the Cavs traded West and guard Sebastian Telfair to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Sessions, Hollins, and a 2013 second round draft pick. I didn’t love the trade then because of how much I like West, but it was pretty easy to see that West had some serious issues that weren’t going to get any better in Cleveland.
So I poured a shot of Patron on the floor for Delonte and settled in to give Sessions a chance. Twenty months later, I’m not sure if I wasn’t right about that trade all along. Now that Sessions and Hollins have both been jettisoned from The Q, it’s time to take a look at their current status in the NBA compared to Delonte’s and Telfair’s career.
Since the trade: 12.3 ppg – 44% – 3.1 rpg – 5.2 apg – 25 mpg
Ramon was a solid contributor during his Cavs tenure, but his Cavs tenure included some of the worst basketball in the history of the franchise. All that awful basketball wasn’t necessarily Ramon’s fault, but considering his past is filled with bad teams, he’ll forever suffer from Common-Denominator-itis. The three teams that Sessions was a big part of were the 2008-09 Milwaukee Bucks, the 2009-10 Minnesota Timberwolves and last season’s Cavaliers. Those three teams went a combined 68-134 with two of those seasons boasting sub-20 win totals. Milwaukee let him go to Minnesota as a restricted free agent, and then Minnesota traded him to Cleveland to make room on the roster for the arriving Luke Ridnour. Really, how often does a part time starter at point guard get traded to make room for Luke Ridnour end up making a big contribution to a winning team?
Sessions backers may point out that his recent trade to Los Angeles will be the moment that he needs to contribute to a winner – and they may be right – but Ramon is on the bench behind 32 year old, career 7 point per game Steve Blake for the Lakers. That’s probably worse than getting traded to make space for Ridnour.
Ramon Sessions is a good basketball player, but he’s not great at anything except taking a lot of shots and wanting to be a starter really badly.
Since the Trade: 4.9 ppg – 57% – 2.6 rpg – .3 apg – 16 mpg
Is there anything I can say about Ryan Hollins that can illustrate his ineffectiveness better than actually watching him play? Watching Twitter when he was released did a pretty good job, too. Hollins was as ineffective as any 7-footer I’ve seen play. He can’t score, can’t play defense, and is being outrebounded by Cavaliers rookie Tristan Thompson this season. Outrebounded by 162. Did I mention that he’s a 7-footer?
Since the trade: 5.5 ppg – 39% – 1.3 rpg – 2.6 apg – 15 mpg
The middling point guard affectionately known as Bassy is pretty much a six foot tall version of Ryan Hollins. He’s started only 28% of his career appearances, and is currently backing up Steve Nash for a Phoenix Suns team that probably won’t even make the playoffs.
I honestly haven’t seen much of Bassy this season, but if he’s only getting 13 minutes per game for a .500 team, I can confidently say that I’m not missing much.
Since the Trade: 8 ppg – 44% – 2.5 rpg – 3.2 apg – 23 mpg
That brings us to Delonte, one of my favorite guards of all time. He’s dirty, tough, and has hot sauce in his bag.
West is currently backing up Jason Kidd in Dallas, but he’s actually started 20 games and is playing a huge role in the Maverick’s season. What West brings to the table for an NBA team isn’t going to show up on the stat sheet. Delonte fights for his teams tooth and nail. He brings the kind of intensity that can only be bested by a Ron Artest chair-leg-stabbing-pick-up game.
When the playoffs role around and Dallas has to match up against the Clippers in the first round, Delonte will be the guy hounding Chris Paul. West’s length and toughness will slow down the Clip Show, and if Dallas advances to (probably) meet the Lakers in the second round… that’s when we’ll see what this trade was really all about.
Telfair and Hollins are either has-beens or never-was, but Sessions and West are clawing for relevancy. And if the Lakers and Mavericks meet in the playoffs, their contrasting styles will be on high definition display for the country to see. Shoot first against picking spots, offensive thinking against lock down frustrate, gotta get mine against you can’t have it.
Sure, maybe the Cavaliers don’t get Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson if they don’t make that trade a year and a half ago. I wouldn’t sacrifice the opportunity that the 2011 and 2012 drafts will afford the franchise that I love the most for anything. But I can’t look at this trade based on what might have been. I can only tell you that if I had to pick between Delonte West and Ramon Sessions I’d pick Delonte every day of the week.
And if anyone goes running to Ramon about this article, I’ve got three words for you; snitches get stitches.
******* Here come’s the world’s fastest addition to a column.****
About three minutes after this column posted, I tweeted to my followers that I had completed another masterpiece. Five minutes after that, Cavs Zine organizer @WayneEmbrysKids reminded me about that 2013 second round pick, and that the Cavs turned it into Semih Erden and Luke Harangody – two members of the all-pasty garbage time team. If you read the conversation below, the breakdown of Delonte for a Lakers first rounder being a win because of the timing of the Lakers pick in relation to the Cavaliers rebuild does make this trade a win for Cleveland.
Thanks to @WayneEmbrysKids for the conversation. If there’s one thing I like more than writing about sports, it’s seeing sports from every angle possible.
But I’d still take Delonte over Ramon. Especially to a KFC.
Stats: Basketball Reference