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Mark Webster explains why he's so excited about the NBA season

"What Doc Rivers is doing at the Clippers... feels a bit like 2008 and what he did with the Boston Celtics"

Mark Webster - @itsmarkwebster

Friday 18 October 2019 08:56, UK

Mark Webster conducts player interviews at London's O2 Arena
Image: Mark Webster conducts player interviews at London's O2 Arena

As the start of the season beckons, a cross-section of notable basketball superfans tell 365beat体育 what they are most looking forward to about the NBA in 2019-20.

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British NBA fans will recall Mark Webster as the face, alongside John Amaechi, of NBA basketball on Channel 4 and Channel 5 back in the day. These days you can hear him discussing sporting matters on talkSPORT 2 and talking music on Five Live on Saturday nights.

And in case you were worried, rest assured he is still a big-time basketball fan...

I'm particularly excited this time around about business in Los Angeles, but not necessarily for the obvious reasons.

LeBron James has got his Anthony Davis for what he hopes will be the resurrection of the Purple and Gold in LA. But I'm more excited about what Doc Rivers is doing at the Clippers. It just feels, even at this early stage, a bit like 2008 and what he did with the Boston Celtics with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. A team that won the championship.

Doc Rivers introduces Kawhi Leonard as a member of the LA Clippers
Image: Doc Rivers introduces Kawhi Leonard as a member of the LA Clippers

The biggest news of the summer was Kawhi Leonard moving to the Clippers after leading Toronto to the title. But has he decided to move because he thinks he has moved to the team that will get him two titles in a row? I think it's a decent question he might have asked himself and I'd say the Clippers have got a more-than-decent chance.

Paul George, Pat Beverley and Lou Williams are just solid, solid players. And I trust in Doc Rivers. He has always done an amazing job. This year, he has been given the weapons and I think he has the capacity to do something special this year, particularly as the West is a little bit open based on the fact I think Golden State - with Klay Thompson's injury, letting Andre Iguodala go - are a slightly diminishing force season by season.

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I got very excited about the Philadelphia 76ers last year because I really like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. They were fun to watch. They've shuffled the pack over the summer. They've got Al Horford in there bringing that veteran presence.

There is this big question over Simmons' shooting ability and if that gets fixed, that makes the Sixers extraordinarily dangerous.

Ben Simmons celebrates a basket in Philadelphia's win over the Loong Lions 0:31
Ben Simmons brought the Philadelphia crowd to their feet as he made the first three-pointer of his NBA career

I'm leaning towards Philly in the East this season but, to be fair, this year's Boston Celtics roster is also exceptionally good, even if they lack an obvious star man. What they do have is a really good bunch of players, several of whom played together with Team USA this summer at the FIBA World Cup. That's an amazing thing because it's a team game and you've got four fellas who have basically been sharing each other's company for ages this summer.

I think it is a shame that Kevin Durant's move to Brooklyn is effectively on hold because of his injury. On his day, Kyrie Irving is my favourite player by which I mean, on his day, he is as good as anything in the NBA.

Kyrie Irving in action against the Lakers before injury caused him to leave the game
Image: Kyrie Irving in action against the Lakers before a facial injury caused him to leave the game

But he is an itinerant talent, that fella. He brings a lot of temperament and a lot of passion. If he is in a place that makes him feel good, you'll see the best of him.

Brooklyn are the ascendant team in New York City, there's no doubt that. They've got a great arena, great uniforms, a great location, a crowd, famous faces, everything Manhattan and the Knicks once were.

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And it won't just be Brooklyn overshadowing the Knicks. Miami may be an interesting team to keep an eye on with Jimmy Butler going in there as a leader. New York and Miami have always had a fantastic rivalry and I've got this funny feeling that Miami will have a good time beating up on the Knicks in their regular-season meetings. It's going to be another one of those years for the Knicks.

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