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Andy Brassell reveals why he is excited about the 2019-20 NBA season

European football expert talks intense competition in the West, supremacy in LA, Giannis in Paris and football's respect for the Heat

Kawhi Leonard in preseason action for the Clippers against the Nuggets
Image: Kawhi Leonard in preseason action for the Clippers against the Nuggets

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

If you know European football journalist Andy Brassell from his writing or his podcasts - including On The Continent, Ramble Meets..., At The Match and The Jules and Andy Show for Football Ramble Daily, you'll also be aware he is an NBA superfan. We asked him what has got him excited about the 2019-20 season.

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2019-20 NBA Primetime games on Sky Sports

2019-20 NBA Primetime games on Sky Sports

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The first thing I'm looking forward to is the fact that the NBA is so open this year.

The way the Golden State Warriors went down at the end of last season was really sad. I do feel like the Warriors will be back at some point, but not necessarily as a contender this season.

NBA 2019-20: Team previews

NBA 2019-20: Team previews

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What that does mean, along with the Clippers' moves for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Denver Nuggets being one year further on, the Utah Jazz bringing in Mike Conley, and the Lakers bringing in Anthony Davis, is that this season is just so hard to call. If you look at the West especially, you could make a case for 12 or 13 teams to get out of the conference and into the playoffs.

I haven't even mentioned the Dallas Mavericks yet! If you're talking about anticipation ahead of the season, did you see the media day shots from Dallas? Kristaps Porzingis is looking like a tank!

Kristaps Porzingis high-fives Luka Doncic in the Mavericks win over the Thunder 0:15
Luka Doncic teed up Kristaps Porzingis for a three-pointer with a sweet behind-the-back dish

The fact the Mavericks and their star duo of Porzingis and Luka Doncic are being pretty much overlooked, the fact that no one is picking the Houston Rockets despite them having two former MVPs, those things tell me this season is going to be intensely competitive.

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It all kicks off with Lakers-Clippers on opening night, and it is going to be brilliant. Of all the rivalries in the NBA, that one now stands out. LA has ended up being the capital of basketball all over again but maybe not in the way that Lakers fans would have thought six months ago.

Lawrence Frank, Doc Rivers and Steve Ballmer welcome Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers
Image: Lawrence Frank, Doc Rivers and Steve Ballmer welcome Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers

For me, Kawhi going to the Clippers rather than the Lakers is far more 'on brand' for him. We know the Clippers and owner Steve Balmer are moving onwards and upwards. The Clippers are not going to put up with being the LA's little brother anymore. They are kicking against so much history and they're determined to catch up and pass the Lakers.

Balmer using Leonard to go into schools and give away a million free backpacks, the new arena, all these things show the Clippers are community-focused. Balmer clearly has this vision that, in the future, LA is going to be about the Clippers just as much as it is about the Lakers. That is really ballsy.

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No one has ever considered that with the Clippers before. I almost feel like the team has got that attitude too. That is why everyone is so excited about Kawhi and PG going there. They've added two elite players to a team that was a real pain in the backside to Golden State in the playoffs last year.

Kawhi leaving the Toronto Raptors for LA has an absolutely huge effect on the Eastern Conference too. The expectation is that the East will be a battle between two or three teams.

Giannis Antetokounmpo rocks the rim in Milwaukee's preseason win over the Utah Jazz 1:59
Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 22 points on the Utah Jazz in his first preseason appearance for the Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo has a great chance of winning the MVP again and he has so much momentum behind him. I think from a European perspective, the fact the Milwaukee Bucks are playing the Paris Game in January is hugely important. I heard Giannis talking about the game and he is very conscious, as a European, of flying the flag for the NBA in Paris.

The London game is fun for us but in Paris this will be a cultural event, the way they look at basketball there is totally different. It's going to be great.

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I look at the Philadelphia 76ers and think they look like a team that would win the NBA championship in 2008 or something like that. All those big guys, it's quite a retro look. But I wonder where the shooting is. There's a lot of pressure on Tobias Harris - to go from being a complementary player to the main guy is different. Al Horford is a brilliant pick-up though. The Sixers are in the mix, definitely.

I'm also really interested to see what happens with the Miami Heat now Jimmy Butler has gone there. Since LeBron left, they've never been one of the best teams, but they've always been hard to knock over. They are well-coached, physical and tough. The attention to detail there from head coach Eric Spoelstra, I'm not surprised they extended him.

Jimmy Butler in action in his preseason debut for the Miami Heat
Image: Jimmy Butler in action in his preseason debut for the Miami Heat

Butler's personality is huge. I think some people think he has gone down there for a bit of sun and an easy life but anyone who knows his personality knows he is up for it all the time. In last year's playoffs he refused to bow down and showed so much heart. We can look at results in sport and justify how they happened, but he was as close to being the hero of that Sixers-Raptors Game 7 as Kawhi Leonard was.

He is totally clutch and he will demand so much from the players around him in Miami who are already motivated.

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When I talk to people in football, especially in scouting, quite a few of them have made note of Spoelstra and said he inspires the way they do things.

I've spoken to some scouts and performance analysts and they say the way in which, because NBA teams have so little time between games to actually coach, he feeds analytics into the players so they are encouraged to self-teach, that's something quite a few football clubs are doing now.

Tyler Herro in preseason action for the Miami Heat 1:20
Highlights of the Atlanta Hawks' preseason visit to the Miami Heat

That's something that is preached in football across Europe now, that players can get out their laptop or open their iPad and get clips of themselves in particular moments or particular situations. The idea is you can do your training while you are on the plane or on the bus, rather than just on the training pitch.

It's easy to overlook how good Spoelstra is, but he is someone who has changed the way the people think about player coaching across different sports.

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