The NBA is back with 22 teams across the two conferences ready to give fans Stateside something to cheer about after a five-month Covid-induced break.
The NBA is back – what does it mean for UK basketball fans?
As the season got back underway last night, Mancunian Matters spoke to the popular social media account NBA UK Fans about the return of the sport, albeit in different circumstances.
Speaking to its founder Brynn Cooper, there is only one team he sees as champions now that the season is back underway.
“I’m sticking with the Los Angeles Lakers”, stated Cooper, 30.
“I don’t think anyone is coming back in better shape than LeBron.
“Avery Bradley is going to be a big loss, although he wasn’t putting up huge numbers all the time, he was a great defensive player.
“I still think they will have enough.
“The Bucks have lost their money in the bank because they were resting players, so they were going to come into the playoffs really fresh.
“Obviously everybody has had a huge break now so that works at a disadvantage for the Bucks.
“LeBron’s got Anthony Davis, who’s been unbelievable this season and I still think they’ve got enough around them, experienced players like Danny Green.
“I think it will be them and the Clippers in the Western Conference final, it’s going to be epic.
“I’m still taking LeBron.”
The decision for basketball to resume is supported by the Chicago Bulls fan, noting how the NBA could not finish as prematurely as French football did in April.
“I think it’s really important that the NBA season returned,” he said.
“I don’t think that the points-per-game format from Ligue 1 works because you’ve got two conferences.
“With the two conferences, it makes it difficult for the NBA to go down that route, the schedule is uneven,” noted Cooper.
The NBA is following in the sporting footsteps of the Premier League, which chose to resume its season successfully, albeit without the attendance of fans.
For Cooper, it may take some time for the quality in games to show.
“It might be similar to the Premier League, in terms of the quality of the sport.
“It might take a few weeks, there will be some really rusty basketball at the start.
“Once you get into the play-offs, a bit like the Premier League, the quality will really pick up again and I’m not really worried about those later matchups,” stated Cooper.
For both new and returning fans, Cooper has spotted out two players to keep an eye out for as the season progresses over the coming months.
“I think you want to keep an eye on some of the younger guys that are looking to make a statement.
“Ja Morant, who is looking really nice in pre-season games. Amazing rookie season.
“Zion Williamson, although he’s left the bubble, hopefully, he’ll be back soon.
“Watching those guys, it’s going to be interesting to see whether they can make it to the play-offs, but also having an impact against the more fancied teams once they do get that match-up.
“They’re going to be lower seeds which means it’s going to be great to see them in play-off games, as rookies,” commented Cooper.
The growth of basketball continues to be on the rise, but Cooper has noted how the process has not been a sudden one, pointing to the influence of the media.
He said, “I wouldn’t say it’s particularly in the last 12 months, I’d say gradually over time.
“The reason for that is there’s been more tv coverage: Sky Sports, BT Sport.
“Also, the effect of social media.
“It’s widely recognised that the NBA has allowed certain things to slide, whereas other sports like the NFL have imposed copyright embargos (on social media) and called people out for it.
“The NBA has been very good at recognising that social media can grow their sport so I think people are now able to access the excitement and have access to the players.
“I think it’s worldwide, not just the UK.
“I’m living in the Middle East at the moment and the NBA has grown huge here.
“It’s largely down to the NBA allowing things to slide on social media.”