NBA PLAYOFF SPECIAL: Ric Bucher and Jason McIntyre on Dame Lillard, Top-10 NBA players, 2019 Free agency
Yeah. Chris Broussard here and welcome to the brand new hoops on FOX podcast, this podcast will give you your daily dose of all things NBA from Fox Sports, including the best content from skipping Shani, Nick. Right. Plus special guests fresh NBA content from myself post game interviews from NBA stars around the league and much much more. Don't forget to subscribe and leave a five star review. What's up everybody? It's Jason McIntyre here with RIC Bucher, a special NBA playoff edition. Rick tremendous game last night in Portland, and okay. Damian Lillard ends the game with a thirty seven foot. Step back three. I loved the decision. Paul George took a shot at it. Your thoughts on the shot was a good shot or bad shot to end the game. It was a bad shot. That's a bad shot. Oh, no, no, no thirty seven feet of the it's a better shot for logo Lillard than it is for most other guys. Are you going to start that is that going to be a hashtag? Now. That's actually something. I was told he already been established because he'd hit a number of shots from that spot. So it wasn't the first time that he took it. And what I would. I appreciate appreciate about. It is that it was a reason there was thought that went into taking it. It wasn't just a bailout. I've got nothing what the hell I'll just hoist it. He knew that through the course of that game. He had been attacking the rim. Hadn't always been able to finish was getting bumped physically. They weren't making the calls. So he looked at it and said it's a tie game. I I have this shot in my bag. I'm not going to get the call. I'm the can't expect to get the call. And so I'm going to go ahead and take something that I know I've made before not just before five for five in the series beyond thirty feet for the season. Thirty seven percent. I think it's a good shot. Again. I like your logic with the they're gonna fallow and he's not going to get the call. I'm surprised. Okay. See didn't do something differently defensively at forty seven years the ball out of his hands. Let let anybody else beat me thirty seven feet away from the basket. You can't double A guy that far away. They have too many other guys who can score you don't need three instead of him taking a look if you're asking me, do I let Lillard take and by the way step sideways as harden. There was so much wrong with that shot. It wasn't even str-. Russ westbrook. Takes more technically correct shots than what that shot was stepping sideways. Falling back hitting it. Good on him that he made it. It says a lot about him. It's also a reflection of the fact that he knew coming off of last year when they got beat by the pelicans that going up against big guards and had Paul George on him that he needed to expand the floor for himself Steph curry Toth, exactly because of the size if he's playing from twenty six feet in now, you can double. Now, you can't trap the ball out of his hands. Now, you can't smother them and make him shoot over you from thirty seven feet. There's no I'm glad nobody said, Paul George. He will you should have closed out harder. Whatever thirty seven feet. You can't close out that hard in that situation. I'll say this. He opened the series. There's a clip floating around social media his first show. Within the first twenty seconds of the series was a three from the logo. And he made it to start the series. They're pretty incredible. All right. Let's move onto the next question. Rick does this series. And I know it's just four five games. Does it cement Damian Lillard? Is it top ten player in the NBA? No. I mean for anybody as of right now. Yes. In prisoners of the moment. Yes. Go ahead. Throw him in your top ten. He's a top ten and he's the best point guard I've ever seen. He's amazed by Rick twenty second time. I hold a lot of people are gonna vote him as second team all NBA point guard. Right. Yeah. That would put him in the top ten if you're looking at Korean harden is the first team kyri Dame's the second team. No, I know because its position its position he can be he can be the third or fourth best guard point guard and not necessarily be a top especially especially because if you if you're looking at guys like Kevin Durant and co why and Jaanus, and you've got any number of point four words that are going to be in that top. Let's quickly rattle through it. Okay. Honest. We both have topped James harden top ten Kevin Durant top ten Steph curry. Yes, lebron. Yes. Okay. So that's five. Yes. Kawai leonard. Let's put him to the sign right now. Okay. I have what I take that back put him in Irving. Would be seven put him in. Okay. Now, we're getting down to what I think is the tough area. Yes. Paul George is probably going to be the he's he's. Joel embiid. I have him in. Oh, you you're well and be to build your team around over Damian Lillard. I know it's simply sept- kind of a different question. But in a gourd wing league. Yes. But there's so much. Joel Embiid can do he can he has reigned my greatest concern about building around. Joel embiid. And somehow how did we go from our top ten two guys that we would build around or we? Okay. Well, that's the distinction because this is the thing that Philadelphia's going to have to face, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid cannot coexist on a championship team. We agree. Right. You're going to make a decision between those two if it's talent. There's no question. Joel Embiid is the guy that I keep and I moved Ben Simmons. But there's a there's a health back. I don't know. I mean, Joel Embiid for his age the fact that he's already sitting out gains with sore knees in a sore back like can't do back to back sees his fifth year in the league xactly can I count on that? So, but if it's just a matter of. Talent. When you're the best player at your position. And he is when healthy the best player at his position. I think I hear somebody at the door Anthony Davis knocking wants to know how you do not have three times all end the first team player Anthony Davis who a year ago. I team all NBA first team all defense. And now Anthony Davis because he missed twenty six games. He's chopped liver which year we're talking about six games because he's missed. Games. A lot of injury issues. You have him top ten. No. I always had this issue with AD is not in my top ten eight. Eighty might not be in my top fifteen. I am not all right down here. To hell wise, and this is kind of the distinction when we get into the Damian Lillard conversation because there are so many intangibles that Damian brings to the table his leadership, his his dedication to the Trail Blazers. And I know that sounds important, right? But the fact of the matter is like he's brought that team together. And this goes back to his AAU days. He was on the Oakland rebels. They were the team that wasn't sponsored they were the team that had to have bake sales and self jerky, and they had to do all kinds of things to scrounge up the money to go to turn amounts. The oakland. Soldiers were the day was team you wear the Nike sponsor team. Lebron came in and played Leon Powe a pill. Remember covering high school basketball back in exactly now, Damian will tell you the soldiers didn't want him the soldiers will say no Damian could complete for us. But he didn't want to know what he wanted Weaver state. Yeah. Bottom line is he stayed with the rebels and they eventually played a tournament where they beat the soldiers. He stayed with the group of his friends that he grew up playing with and he's always had that mentality that you know, what if I stay with if I stay loyal. If we stay together, our continuity, and our dedication to each other will Trump pure talent. So what we saw in what we've seen with these trailblazers is something that Damian Lillard has basically built his entire career on. And that's where that's one of those in town tangible that when you get to the NBA it's still about talent to find that. Really? Yeah. As a calorie that's about. Although the add one quick note is so I do have Dame top ten I would take him over Kawai Leonard right now, I think. He's got that Hiller mentality at the end game quite doesn't. I don't know that he does he play with the Spurs where he was second banana to Tim Duncan the greatest coach I need to see what he does in the Sixers series. I'm discounting the Orlando Magic who tried to defend him with Jonathan Gordon. Jimmy butler. Why Leonard's could be a show next? I like Butler lot the fiber in contention for top ten Jimmy bowler. Yeah. The first round matchups. I mean, you're also gonna see you're probably going to see a Leonard on Benson. Yes. A great deal and quiet. Leonard has eaten Benson's lunch benefits. Twenty to come on. Let's I I'm a big Simmons guy. But. See that's, but that's where that's where Kawais. Good quiet is good. As a he's a great two way player. My concern with him is not that he's not a closer. I think he's happy to have the ball at the end and take the shot. It's that does he make everybody better is he a playmaker. Or is he really kind of an isolationist where if I tell him to stop this guy. He can stop that guy. If I tell them to go score on this guy. He can score on this guy. But if I asked him to blend what you're doing with the rest of the team. Can he do he started his career as a blender in San Antonio? Let me just remind everybody Anthony Davis a year ago at this time swept Damian Lillard out. Now you had to help from holiday. Wait, wait. Wait, we holiday. We went way. We would it was Damian Lillard against Yousef nurture kits. All right. And the difference in that series was Rajon Rondo and drew holiday swallowed up CJ McCollum new and Damian Lillard and see McCollum and Damian Lillard came back this year and said we have a problem playing against big guards. I mean, let's be honest. I am not giving that series two AD AD, not different stats and funny. I was from this year, you know, who the best player on that team was even when eighty was there, you know, who it was, you know, who Julius Randle. You know, doesn't make it, sir. No, okay. Mr holiday. Yes. Yes. He was he was at the end of games. You talk about being a closer. That's my problem with eighty AD. All right. How wise I would agree with you is he a top ten talent. Yes. Because he's a great two way player athle-, but I'm putting him in that Tracy McGrady camp of guy who's a phenomenal talent as a basketball player a twenty this point. He still doesn't know what how can see headlines now Rick Anthony Davis is not a top fifteen player. That's a good art. Let's move onto the next one Rick. Okay. We'll put a button on the thunder season pull George turns twenty nine and may Russell Westbrook. Thirty one in November. Thunder have a lot of soul-searching to do. I think the second highest luxury tax in the league can't not a lot of wiggle room. What do you do? Do you try to trade? Russell westbrook. And does anybody want that salary? I don't think he's straight Paul George your thoughts on where the thunder go from your no chance no way that they trade either. One of those guys. Let's not forget, it is Oklahoma City. Yeah. And the ability to sign superstar players to long-term contracts is the exception not rule. They were able to do that. You also have to superstars in Russ and Paul George who are compatible, but do they play well together, I think they can't play well together wretches Russell Westbrook can become a sharer. I know he's a great assistant. He can become a distributor and seed to pull George for parts. But. For a full season and a couple of rounds in the playoffs. I don't know that this ever going to get out of the first round was I I fully believe that they have that capability. Rush does have to change. But I saw rush change from last year. Russ the last time you saw him last year was against the Utah Jazz. When he scored what forty five points on forty three shots. It was the battering ram Russ Westbrook. I saw different Russ Westbrook. This year. Paul George doesn't become an MVP candidate if Russ west is not willing to take a back seat. Now. Paul George got hurt. And then rush took over again. I can't fault him for the I will go to game five fourth quarter leading by fifteen. Yes. About eight nine minutes left Russ's down the stretch. A couple of big shots late third early fourth down the stretch. He misses the layup. Twenty seconds less couple turnovers. Couple missed jumpers. He didn't have confidence in jumpers. He's deferring to Schroeder. Sure. What? I know. You're arguing both ways. Like, he doesn't defer. He doesn't play with others, but Schreuder is on fire from three and he's giving the ball. And now we're going to criticize him for that. I can't do that. And by the way, he says he's g got the ball. Plenty of time to free throw those last five six minutes. They hit any one of those. Okay. So. The blame game. Billy Donovan, let's get him out of town Stephen Adams gonna blame him. They didn't have Andre Rovers because that's what I'm out here on when I turn on TV or radio blame Russ Westbrook psychiatrist or the one that he hasn't hired yet. Because ultimately, that's if Russ plays with the poise and blending his game with everybody else the way he did last night. He does that for the entire series. He does that all year long. Then they're not the succeed. And they've had some practice under pressure situations of operating that way. It's just he he suddenly faced elimination and he decided, you know, what I gotta stop. All this rates thing. I just got to be focused on the job at hand. Date on Lillard has been focusing on that approach four year. Rush shot thirty six percent for the series. All right. Let's move on next question. So nine free agents on this list. We're trying to tears of free agent. We'll go through a couple layups, we won't spend anytime. Can they be a number one and alpha on a championship team this or number two or three? Kevin durant? Get that out of the way easily come into rant and Leonard have both demonstrated that they can be the best player on a championship team. So you put them there. I would also put kyri Irving interest on that tier one because I think Boston's going to win it this year still saying that it's bite of them. Trying to prove me wrong all year long the regular season. And he does have a championship to his name where he hit the big shot any any played a big role. So has fully earned that status. Anybody who wants to say not quite yet? I'm with you. I believe that he can't. So I'm gonna put him in disagreement there now where it gets a little tricky. Skies like Klay Thompson Jimmy Butler Kemba Walker are they all two's is clay more of a three can Jimmy Butler via one as he wasn't Chicago. When he had some great showdowns with LeBron the east who do you? Let you go first who do you wanna start with Klay Thompson can be to? He can be a second best player on on the right team. I believe in many ways if you look at the warriors pre pre K D he was essentially that yesterday on green played a big role Harrison Bondra Dala, Shaun Livingston. It was a collection on that team. Klay Thompson demonstrated in the postseason. A we need to get a game with our backs against the wall. He did it against Oklahoma City Claes it to Jimmy Butler who was maybe a two in Minnesota. I know him Andrew Wiggins and admit of turf war. I don't know who the two is to your guy. Joel Embiid in Philly Tobias Harris who will get to. Shortly. I personally may big Jimmy Butler fan. I think I cannot wait for the Kawai Leonard showdown. I have Butler's too Rick. So I have originally when I'm looking at my list, and I went through this. I had clay Jimmy Butler Tobias Harris Kemba Walker all on that second level because I think that and I don't championship. But if you took Kemba Walker and you had to play with LeBron James, I think he could be a poor man's, Cairo Irving. I think he has that potential. Okay. But to be honest, if I really look at this. It's Katy kyri on the first level Klay Thompson on the second level. And then I'm not sure that I can put anybody else real on that second love because he doesn't shoot it. Well, enough, maybe. Well, and what has he done like? Asia for one okay? Well, and and if it wasn't for Rajon, Rondo they're not even doing what they did there. So I don't know that Jimmy has earned that status to bias Harris. I like a lot I think he I think both Jimmy and Tobias have the capability of being that. But have they proved to me that they are that Thompson has proved through? Those guys they still need to show me so Tobias you have on the same level of Jimmy Butler. I put them in sort of the same category. Yes. Okay. All right. Kemba walker? You think can be a Kyrie Irving. Let's move on to a couple of guys who are going to face off. This Chris Middleton Al Horford can either of those guys to we've seen Horford on some good hawks teams. I don't think he's a two at this age is career. No. He's not a to Chris Middleton is he he's a nice story. I mean, he he's an all star if he's lost. Okay. You said if LeBron gets Kemba Walker potential contender. It gets Chris Middleton on what criminals are great shooter one of the best shooters in the league all-star this year. So it was called coups. I mean. I mean like, Chris, and I don't wanna take as a G league guy who became an all-star. My hat is off to Chris Middleton. But his Chris Middleton going to be any better than he is right now. What's the Tobias Harris? I think can can be better. I actually think Kemba Walker can be better. But as does Kemba fit to he needs the ball all the time high volume player in Charlotte. I know you had no number two or three. I think you can I think you can play Campbell off the bowl the same way. I mean, we say that Kyrie Irving always needs the ball. Right. I think he needs the ball in certain situations. It depends on what you have. You have a play making three. Then I think that Kemba Walker can be what he is. And can be very effective in that way. Yeah. I like all these guys. I I think you're low on criminal. So the books. In store. They have the biggest odds to win the east. They're the favorites to go to the finals. Chris Middleton, clearly their second those in good who's who has them as the favorites to go to the final the guys in the desert who booked casino, sending lines for many many years. So just to be clear Middleton three. So do you have them as their three or Eric Bledsoe there to now let's has been phenomenal. I team all defense. Very this is what makes makes Milwaukee difficult and challenging is that it's a collection. Yeah. That is the two or three, you know, it's Chris Middleton is is the beneficiary of a very good team. And they had to pick somebody to be an all star to represent present that team because they were so good. You have to have a second all star. So what is numbers were there? Unfortunately, I don't have them in front of me. But Chris Middleton. He's a very he's very good. But he wanted to make them a six make Vinnie Johnson coming off the vet. He I mean, he's three he's a three. Okay. All right. Let's move on to everybody's favourite free agent. Kevin durant? And this one listen you've been saying into the Knicks. The world has followed. You I remain on. Kevin Durant should stay island. I don't know how we really wanna frame this. But when you look at upside for Kevin Durant longtime legacy would it mean more for him to win four straight in Golden State where he could win four straight finals MVP's something Michael Jordan, never did Larry Bird magic. None of those guys in the modern era have won four straight. Or would it be more beneficial for him to leave in when title the way LeBron now, LeBron went home Katie would be going somewhere as a mercenary to New York or Brooklyn or the clippers or what have you in the minds of basketball, people staying there and winning four would be infinitely more valuable than going any place else and winning another one. It's just that. Kevin Durant isn't looking at things in a conventional sense. Like, we're all judging it based on standard basketball legacy. Well, let me. Who basketball people people who are on the league fans media former players, how would you want to qualify that? I mean, all of the above players GM's executives. Everybody is of the mind stay, I mean, look what you have. And you're you're going to be good. You're going to be good for while. And you're gonna win more championships in your in in the bay area. Like, what's not to light? I look valley enter capital, but K D doesn't look at it in the pure prism of I could win four championships in a row and nobody's ever done that because he has ANSA Larry things that he wants to accomplish and challenges that he wants to take on and one of them certainly is that he wants to be in. This is the supreme confidence that he has build it around me. Let me go get a championship. Let me do it in a big market of big market where I can take advantage or or pursue all of the business and outside interests that I have. He wants to conquer a lot of kingdoms saying to him. Yeah. But you could you could conquer the basketball kingdom is like. I could. But there's like three or four other ones that I wanna get and he's never gonna conquer those in the basketball. Just four straight is only going to be what thirty one this fall. Yes. I mean, this would be three straight if he wins it and four if he stays, but I don't know. I put them in the Jordan LeBron discussion if he can do four straight, especially if he continues with the finals MVP's, the stats are there, the stats are there. But the look nobody's even as of right now when you ask people who's the best player in the league right now. Everybody has to kind of think about it. Oh, not me. It's no doubt about it since he got to Golden State and destroyed LeBron head to head in the final. But here's you are unique. Because I think most people still look at it as Katie joining a championship team. I just for a guy who's one two finals MVP's. I've never seen a guy who's done that who still looked at as a member of the band because he's not really, but he's George hair. Trading here, these not used visible, but these dopes out there on social media. Well, he just joined they had lost the finals. He's won the finals MGB twice. Yes. Michael Jordan, one nothing without Phil Jackson, one nothing without Scottie Pippen. Okay. But, but even you would say to this point, it's still Steph Curry's team and still does more in this intern intangible way as a leader as involving everybody. I mean, there's still the criticism this year when it becomes two K D Centric. They're not as good. So that's that's the rub. And who's and here's and here's this is the other part when it comes to basketball, and this has been Katie this is people who know him have been with him for a long time told me at his heart. The thing that he gets the most pleasure from is putting the ball in the basket is being that supreme score. He likes nothing more than that in with the warriors. Ears. He's always having to share. He's always having to be part of and winning a ring as part of as opposed to winning a ring. And you know, what I get the light everybody up whenever I want. And but Rick we both know listen if he goes to New York life is lonely when you're passing a Frank Miller kina and whoever's left on that awful roster. I mean that team is so bad. He's going to need Zion. And Kyrie Irving you. He wants to win a ring new. You know, who I am? I'm Katie the amount of confidence that we have with Russell Westbrook and James harden against. Lebron wade. They were young. They went to the finals they had a coach who had never been there before they were going up against a team that was out for revenge. Yeah. There were a lot of dynamics there. How about this? If he goes to New York. Yes. And they don't get the second round because stays or the Sixers keep their core or the bucks add somebody then what forget about. Kevin Durant is a top player in the league. That's a joke to and that's such negative thinking, I'm a positive guy creek much Christmas sard around Rick. I it started to become negative. Let's katie's not looking at. Oh. But what if Katie is looking when look at all the things that I could do you get on and kyri guy understand that I think they can win that. But all right. Let's move on. Finally, NBA TV ratings are down. I believe eighteen percent was in Abruzzo yesterday. Feels like an NBA finals matchup with the rockets in the warriors. Rick for the league's sake who they want to win. In this series, Golden State and the same old gold and say worse or new blood in the Houston. No. You have to have the Golden State Warriors. You have to have the king. You have to have Steph curry K D the star power. No offense to James harden. Chris Paul's not quite there will be angry to hear this. Well, but he's just he's not the same player. He's not on the same level. But the warriors the familiarity sells the stardom cells and the idea that you could have warriors and the Celtics. We're looking at Toronto e we're looking at Milwaukee. Okay. May I wonder if the honest brings in a different global meal to the game, he's not a very relatable player. He's just a total unicorn at what six eleven with the wingspan of Condor. I don't think kids can relate to him the way they can Steph curry and just he's not fully bloomed yet when it comes to being able to attract people like that. But I believe the main reason that we're seeing the percentages fall off is because the NBA has become a a game where the interest is in the transaction. Yeah. There's more interest in where K D is going to play next year. And who lebrons is going to get next next to him. Then there is about the actual game. You don't you're not excited for the warriors blazers Western Conference sweep well, I daily actually I am because you have to home courts have to arri. Anna's that are awesome. But see in like one little quadrant in the country. Easy travel for me. Yes. Yeah. Trouble. And the atmosphere is going to be phenomenal. But here's the thing. I'm going to be in those buildings. I know these guys I know the history of these guys. So for me, I'm I'm an outlier in that. I still love watching the game. I know how much Lillard being from Oakland doesn't want it to be Steph Curry's town like there's there's so many dynamics there that I wanna watch. And I want to watch them play out on the court. But I think the the landscape that the NBA has conquered. When it comes to sports fans has been with people who play fantasy sports who don't necessarily love the game of basketball. They love the idea making transactions imagining what if it was Katie LeBron together or Jimmy Butler and kyri and Katie got together New York like the fantasy aspect of following. Sports. Is it clipping reality? My wife. Rick tried to propose vacation the first week in July. I said there's no we have seven superstars leave in the league. I gotta be all over this. All right, folks. Four RIC Bucher, I'm Jason McIntyre that your NBA playoff special. Thank you for listening to the hoops on FOX podcast. Don't forget subscribe and leave a five star review letting us know what you think of the show.