Chat with Ric Bucher
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN NBA reporter Ric Bucher stops by to give you his thoughts on the latest news from the court.
Bucher joined ESPN in January 1999 as a San Francisco-based senior writer covering professional basketball for ESPN The Magazine, and as an NBA reporter for SportsCenter and NBA Fastbreak. Bucher also contributes to ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Bucher Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Ric Bucher (1:03 PM)
OK, I've got a plane to catch in about an hour, so let's get rolling. Many solid questions came in early. Thanks for joining me.
Ric do you think the Houston Rockets have enough to grab that 8th spot in the west?
What are the Rockets chances for the playoffs?
Ric Bucher (1:05 PM)
Rick Adelman has missed the playoffs, I believe, three times in his career, which is approaching two decades, if I'm not mistaken. But they have three divisional games and they're 1-8 in those games. Grizzlies' win over Boston was huuuuge. I like Memphis for holding on, even without Rudy Gay.
chris (Newport Beach, CA)
If kobe finishes 2nd all time in scoring with 8 championships and averages 20pts 8assts 4 rbs over the next 3 years. which is where his numbers should go then extends his career another 2 years as a role player like ron harper was. where does he rank as GOAT? 3 finals mvps 8 rings and 2nd all time in scoring
Ric Bucher (1:07 PM)
I admire your future-tripping, but expecting all that from Kobe for three more years is, well, I'm not even sure Mrs. Kobe can envision that. IF he did all that, you'd have to put him ahead of Jordan. But I don't see all that happening.
Get em in early....Mr. Bucher, Bulls are looking pretty dominant in the past few games. Is it a little early to say that they are in playoff form or should we wait for the Boston game in April as a measuring stick for both teams?
Ric Bucher (1:10 PM)
I don't think anyone is in playoff form: the level goes up another notch and the ability to prepare for a specific opponent is a huge element. That said, the Bulls have everything necessary to be a postseason force: great defense, attention-to-detail coach, unstoppable closer. The big question is their collective mental toughness and ability to adjust from game to game. We won't know that answer til we get there.
This week Wilbon said that the Bulls shouldn't do a Joakim Noah for Dwight Howard trade, if that were available. I love Noah and understand his importance, but that's a no-brainer for the Bulls, right?
Ric Bucher (1:13 PM)
I'm with you. That said, I don't see any way Dwight would consider going to Chicago. He wants his own stage and a big one. The latest I've heard on that is that he's wavering on the Lakers as his preferred destination -- not sure Kobe will have enough left in the tank to grow with him. Scratch Miami and New York from his list as well. The idea of joining forces with Deron in NJ/Brooklyn, I'm told, is gaining appeal.
Jackson (Greensboro, NC)
Even though Miami has struggled against the elite teams should it really be a cause for concern in the playoffs when we've seen Wade and James consistently elevate their level of play in the postseason?
Ric Bucher (1:16 PM)
Every quality player elevates his game in the postseason and, to be honest, I'm not sure results back up your presumption on LeBron. Playoff games are won on execution, efficiency and consistency. Flashes of brilliance work in the NCAA tournament, not the NBA postseason. The Heat have had issues in all three of those categories I mentioned -- so, yes, it really should be cause for concern.
Ric Bucher (1:17 PM)
Let's go rapid-fire for the next 20 minutes and then wrap up with reaction to the rapid fire. I'm going so slow right now I'm even boring myself...
Mayo (Washington DC)
Does the definition of ?Most Valuable Player? account for parody? As important as it is to have a good point guard, there are so many skilled guards in the league capable of running a team. CP3, Rondo, Deron Williams, Rose, Billups, Westbrook etc. Same goes for wing scorers. But there is only ONE Dwight Howard. He?s far-and-away the best center in the league at the moment, making him more ?valuable? than Rose in my opinion.
Ric Bucher (1:19 PM)
That's one way to look at it. I would re-name the award, the One-of-a-Kind Award. And big men would win MVP almost every year, while wing players never would. You know, because they're just not that unique.
Seems like the most under-the-radar stories/teams are Denver and Portland. How legit are they?
Ric Bucher (1:20 PM)
I like Portland more as a playoff team than Denver. Big believer in collective experience under fire and Nuggets still play a high-volume mistake kind of game. Doesn't do well in the postseason.
Chris Bosh (miami)
Did i walk the walk or what?
Ric Bucher (1:20 PM)
For all the talk, you've got a couple more miles to go.
Paul (Ladera Ranch)
The Lakers have been surging since the break. Is this driven by the fact that they are a veteran team and realize it time to get down to business? Or, is the key that Bynum is healthy and able to contribute more on the floor?A side bar - how big is Bynum he looks taller than his listed 7 feet?
Ric Bucher (1:21 PM)
Both -- Bynum has rounded into a form and Lakers can see end of the road and have ratcheted up their defense. Six teams held to under 85 points in last 14 games. They did it only four times in the first 57 games, if my fact-checking is accurate. That's pretty impressive.
Ric Bucher (1:22 PM)
All right, limiting myself to two sentences for each answer. Seemed to work well last week...
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Personally I think NBA Executive overvalue great NCAA performances. How much do you think a great NCAA performance can propel a player's NBA Draft stock?
Ric Bucher (1:23 PM)
Among the good GMs, not much. Some of the best I know don't even watch the games live because they don't want to be influenced by the atmosphere -- watch tape instead with rest of player's body of work.
Ric, Why doesn't every NBA team own a d-league affiliate? Financial reasons?
Ric Bucher (1:23 PM)
Yes, still a bit of a new concept. They'll get there.
Has Tom Thibodeau taken a seat yet this year?
Ric Bucher (1:24 PM)
It's a fair question. He's going to need to in the future if he doesn't want to wear out his welcome.
Can/should the Timberwolves move on from Kahn and try to bring in Kevin Pritchard? He did some pretty good things in a comparable market.
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
I might be a party of one, but I'd say Kahn has done a nice job of amassing talent. I like Kevin and know how much time he puts into his job, but having unlimited resources in Portland may have colored the impression of his performance.
Jake (Crown Point, IN)
Do you think Derrick Rose is the MVP of the 10-11 season and are you a voter
Ric Bucher (1:26 PM)
Yes and yes.
Does Kevin Love's ability/desire to rebound hurt his defense?
Ric Bucher (1:27 PM)
It can happen, but I have not seen that with him.
Ric, how come nobody is talking about the season that Kris Humphries is having? Is he playing himself out of the Nets' price range, or will they be able to bring him back? He's gotta be in the top-5 for MIP, no?
Ric Bucher (1:28 PM)
He's had a great year and made himself a lot of money. I could see him as a S&T option combined with Lopez to bring Howard to the Nets.
Hi, Ric. Would like to know if you have ever seen key players playing H.O.R.S.E. in an NBA game.
Ric Bucher (1:29 PM)
Jason Holmes (Pittsburgh,PA)
Other than New Orleans and Sacramento are their any other teams that are potentially in trouble of relocation in the near NBA future?
Ric Bucher (1:30 PM)
Memphis. Another city with a demographic that just can't afford an NBA team.
Blake (victorville, CA)
why isn't Russell Westbrook getting any MVP buzz he only two less points then derrick rose more assists and more rebounds and a better field goal percentage pleasd tell me why
Ric Bucher (1:31 PM)
Because statistics don't determine who the better player is.
Hey Ric, I was just curious on how you think the heat would fare with D-Wade leading the team and taking the shots at the end of the game if need be.
Ric Bucher (1:32 PM)
I've always felt the ball should be in Wade's hands at the end of a game. But I also understand why LeBron has it -- he's clearly the better player (just maybe not with a game on the line).
Hey Ric,Utah looks pretty pathetic. If, hypothetically, the balls bounce their way and they get two high lottery picks, do you seem them being able to either draft good talent or package redundant players (maybe Okur?) and one of the two picks to bring in something they need? I'm only 29 and I don't really know how to live in a world where the Utah Jazz suck. Thanks for the chat
Ric Bucher (1:33 PM)
I don't see them getting a superstar out of this draft, no matter how lucky they get. And that's what they need because right now they have a nice collection of role players.
Wouldn't a Bosh for Nene and Felton be a perfect trade for both sides?
Ric Bucher (1:34 PM)
It'd be perfect for Miami. Don't see how or why Denver would do that deal.
Winston (Los Altos, CA)
A while ago, you'd said you heard not-so-good things about W's owner Lacob. Recently, you noted he was a bright guy. It's disturbing that the W's reportedly tried to get Jamison at the deadline; picked up Al Thornton instead. And then Lacob outright said that Gerald Wallace couldn't help the team. Flabbergasted.
Ric Bucher (1:38 PM)
Early feedback was not glowing, but I've since talked to a few more people and they've been more positive. I like how he has approached things -- hasn't rushed into anything, obviously has a specific blueprint in mind. I don't consider passing on Gerald a bad thing because I would agree with Lacob: he's expensive and doesn't really address what they need, which is a guy who can score on the block. They already have a highly-paid energy guy in Biedrins and that hasn't been paying off since his injury.
With Tyler Hansbrough playing like he was in the Tar Heel days, do you think the Pacers have what it takes to at least make a good opening round series with either Chicago or Boston?
Ric Bucher (1:39 PM)
I love seeing a relentless worker like Hansbrough get a payoff, but the playoffs are a different animal: no one gets outworked. I just don't see enough in Tyler's overall game to see him leading Indiana to more than one first-round win.
I remember you comments on Portland not being a great playoff team due to no crunch time scorer. Has Roy changed your mind or do you think LA can be that guy for them?
Ric Bucher (1:41 PM)
I like Portland better than Denver. They still don't have a go-to guy, which is why it'll be tough for them to do more than squeak out of the first round, at best. But what they've done in spite of all the setbacks this season really is impressive. As an aside: Andre Miller never has seen the second round of the playoffs. Gets to the postseason a lot, never advances.
"Because statistics don't determine who the better player is." THANK YOU! Stats should be a part of the MVP discussion, not the whole discussion itself.
Ric Bucher (1:43 PM)
No, thank you. To be clear, stats can be very valuable - in gauging a player's improvement, efficiency, etc. But using them to compare players on different teams in different systems with different roles...well, a lot of people (who don't work in or around the NBA) do it. But it doesn't make it right.
Ok, so "statistics don't determine who the better player is." What does, your eyes? I doubt you have seen every minute both Westbrook and Rose have played this year, right? Seems like statistics are a better measure of a players worth to me.
Ric Bucher (1:46 PM)
I watch games, both live and on TV. I talk to scouts, players, coaches -- both on those respective players' teams and their opponents'. I study how they're used. I find out what the game plans are and how well particular players execute them. So, do I value all that more than I do a boxscore? Yes, yes, I do.
Ric Bucher (1:50 PM)
This is hard to say without coming off as arrogant, but I'm going to try: the access I have, and have had for nearly 20 years, informs my opinion. You don't have that access. I understand that. Some who do, don't know what to do with it or don't utilize it, for whatever reason. More than anything, I remain teachable. When I write or say something, it's almost never without having checked it out with people in the league whose opinions I trust, and who will tell me when I'm off. I don't cite those people because they're usually multiples, but rest assured my understanding of who is good and who is not, who is doing what and who is not, is not based on my thoughts alone.
Adam Kralic (Chicago)
"I don't care about no triple double...I just want to win." Who said that Ric? :)
Ric Bucher (1:51 PM)
Sounds like DRose to me. And from what I know of him, he means it.
Hey, im an okc fan, and you're right Rose is better at this stage than Westbrook. However, i think its mostly game management skills/point guard savvy rather than ability/potential.
Ric Bucher (1:53 PM)
I'd say that's fair. But the difference in game management is pretty signficant. And I say all this being a huuuuuge Westbrook fan. That he's being discussed as a top five point guard is a big step from where he was just two years ago.
Ric, You cant be serious about Lebron not elevating his play in the postseason! You seem to want to focus on the loses, but how can you blame a man when his team cant guard a stretch 4 and he averages 38-8-8 like against Orlando? What about decimating the Pistons singlehandedly in one of the great performances in history? And look what he did to your beloved Bulls last year, alleged quit or not he still had monster numbers against the Celtics. This stigma against him for not individually winning a title and thus not being a proven performer is pure insanity.
Ric Bucher (1:55 PM)
As I said, the NBA playoffs are not about singular performances. LeBron has had some spectactular games. He's also had some awful ones. Not just statistically awful, but as in had-no-impact-on-the-game awful. Even when a Paul Pierce or a Kobe doesn't shoot well, they do things that don't show up in the boxscore that make a difference.
Ric Bucher (1:57 PM)
And pointing out 38-8-8 is exactly what I mean about stats. Nobody touches the ball more than LeBron. He is a supremely gifted physical talent. That's going to translate, in most cases, to huge numbers. But are they winning numbers? Does he make *the* plays that turn momentum or win a game?
ric, how could the nba let a lockout happen when popularity seems to be at an all time high? tell me it won't happen!!
Ric Bucher (1:58 PM)
That's part of the reason it probably will. If they were really hurting, it might be a death knell to stop. But being high, the thinking is they have a ways to fall and can climb right back on that horse when they get back.
You do realize that, unless you have some kind of photographic memory, you actually remember very little from each game you watch? That you only come away with a vague impression, which is most likely over-influenced by a handful of flashy plays? I'm not saying the eyeball test doesn't have a role (especially for assessing defense), but it is MUCH less reliable than statistics for gauging an entire year's worth of performances.
Ric Bucher (2:01 PM)
Speak for yourself. I take notes. And I go back and review tape. And I talk to people who review tape. Statistics have their place. Assuming they, all by themselves, tell you the story of a player's season is where you've already veered off track. Not only do they not tell you that, they're certainly not *more* reliable.
Ric Bucher (2:02 PM)
Hey, my taxi is wating in my driveway. Enjoyed the spirited exchanges. Hope the majority of the room found something in the discussion of statistics and their place in the world of basketball. (Which I'd argue is far different than their use in baseball, but that's for another time.) We'll do it again next week...