The new NBA season starts on Tuesday so we got the view of Mark Jackson on the season ahead.

Jackson, returning to the booth after his coaching stint with the Golden State Warriors, will be a regular face on British screens once again.

BT Sport 2 is broadcasting a double header involving Dallas @ San Antonio and Houston @ LA Lakers.

And 24 hours later, the Chicago Bulls and the returning Derrick Rose visit the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony – with Jackson among the commentary team – before the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook visit the Portland Trail Blazers and Joel Freeland.

He gives his thoughts on who’ll be hot – or not.

What do you make of the Bulls? Derrick Rose finally had a big game the other night. Where do you assess where he’s at and his recovery and what do you expect from the Bulls this year?

MARK JACKSON:  I think for the first time in a long time, Derrick Rose looked like himself and obviously everybody was aware it was going to take some time.  But he’s an explosive talent.  He is a tremendous weapon.  He makes them a totally different basketball team and he was in attack mode.

I think adding Pau Gasol makes a difference.  You have two big guys in Gasol and [Joakim] Noah, that can make plays at the pinch post area, read off of each other, tremendous size, tremendous skill and the underrated fact that they’ve added shooting.  And I just love Taj Gibson as that back-up big guy who can impact the game from the post, get to the line and defend at a high level.  That’s a team that’s extremely dangerous and as an NBA fan, it is refreshing to see Derrick Rose back to himself.  He’s a high-quality individual and tremendous for the game. 

If you had to predict today, and I understand that the NBA is filled with a lot of variables, would you predict LeBron James will win at least one title in Cleveland? If yes, why? If no, why? 

JACKSON:  I’d say yes.  He does win at least one title in Cleveland.  He’s the best player in the world.  They’ve done an outstanding job of putting great talent around him.

lebron_deng_game4_568When you think about LeBron, Love, Irving, those are three of the best in the game, not just at their positions but in the game.  You’ve got a guy in Irving that just won the MVP representing our country.  That’s a talented, talented basketball team.  And that’s not to mention the other guys on that team.  So they’re very deep, very talented and I would say yes they will win one.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that’s going to be this year.  But to me, it’s an easy call to say they’ll win one.

The West is loaded.  The West does have talented great basketball teams.  But I’m not going to go that far to say that Cleveland or Chicago cannot beat the representative in the Western Conference.

With LeBron back in Cleveland, with Kobe [Bryant] coming back, with the Knicks having [Carmelo Anthony] back, plus franchises worth $2 billion all of a sudden and the new TV contract, it would appear the NBA is about as healthy as it’s ever been. You have been around the league for a long time. Do you share that view?  Do you see this as kind of a high point in NBA history just going into this season?

JACKSON:  I really believe it’s an extremely high point.  And it’s a job well done by everybody involved – the players, how they represent the league, obviously ownership, coaches, management and an incredible job done setting the table by Commissioner Stern and then following up and finishing by Commissioner Silver.  So an outstanding job across the board.  And it’s an awesome time to be an NBA owner, player, coach, management. It’s just an incredible time.

And I think as a fan, there are so many stories because no longer can you say, well, this is a team that’s going to run away or these are the two teams.  I think there’s so many teams that have a legitimate chance… the two in the Eastern Conference and five at least in the Western Conference, that’s seven teams with a legitimate chance to, at the end of the day, win it all and I think it’s great for basketball and it’s great as a fan.

I just wondered why you think the East has just been unable, besides Miami, to compete with the West in overall depth over the last few years? This year seems like the same thing. Why is that?  Is it just a cycle?  Why are most of the bad teams, the lottery teams in the East and what are your thoughts on the voting down the lottery reform and whether you think the Draft lottery needs a reform?

JACKSON:  It’s just a cycle.  And this is a time when outside of LeBron, the best players pretty much have been in the Western Conference, with the best teams.  And the East has struggled for some period outside of the success of the Miami Heat.

But I think with LeBron [staying in] the Eastern Conference, we’ll see teams in the Eastern Conference get better.  When you look at some of the teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they are getting better.

When you continue to add talent and draft picks, you’ve got no choice but to get better.  I certainly agree that teams should not be rewarded when you talk about the Draft being reformed for losing.

So I really believe that at the end of the day, it should be a situation where it’s a straight up lottery of some form where we’re not encouraging teams to find ways to lose games when it matters most during the course of the season. 

What do you think of the Philadelphia 76ers? Last year they only won 19 games, 26-game losing streak, in a total rebuilding process and asking the fans to be patient. And they feel down the road that the team’s going to be very competitive, be able to compete with the best teams in the league. I’d just like to get your thoughts on the whole process and what kind of year do you see them having?

76ers' Michael Carter-Williams

76ers’ Michael Carter-Williams

JACKSON:  I think the concern is substandard product right now.  I watched three guys in the Draft work out and I would have taken two with the number one pick.

I love Wiggins, with all due respect, but there’s no question that Jabari Parker would have been my number one pick or it would have been Joel Embiid.  I watched both of those players and they were absolute home run players, home run talent and work ethic, incredible.  They’re headed in the right direction.

It’s about getting healthy.  When you talk about Embiid and Michael Carter Williams being healthy, you can see two guys at those positions that are going to seal it for a long time.  And my concern with the Sixers, they developed a losing culture, when you have that many young guys, they don’t know how to win and all they know right now is losing.

At some point you’ve got to develop a culture of winning and winning habits and gaining some results so the guys can believe it.  Because that can fester and be like a disease that you’ve got to rid those guys of in order to get a winning culture.

So that would be my concern, if I was the Sixers right now.

I just want to know how big of a jump do you think it’s going to be for Derek Fisher to go from playing the game to coaching it? What do you think his biggest challenges are going to be with the Knicks and finally with Jason, having made the same jump last year, do you see this now as a trend in hiring and what do you guys think of it?

JACKSON:  Well, I think when you pick the right person, it can be successful.  So certainly, do your homework.  Interview guys.  Watch their body of work beforehand.

And there have been so many – whether it be even hiring veteran coaches, there have been some that have been successful, a lot that have been successful.  There have been a lot that have failed.

So I think it goes the same way with hiring guys fresh off of playing.  You can’t say it doesn’t work if somebody is not successful at it.  But I think when you look at Derek Fisher, when you look at his body of work as a player, as a leader, as a quality guy, there’s no question that he’s a guy that you can see being a head coach in this league for a long time to come.

So I’m sure he’ll do just fine.  And he’s a guy that’s studied.  He’s reached out to coaches.  He’s prepared for this moment.  So I think he’ll do just fine.  The challenge is when you take these jobs, taking jobs where you’re in position to win.

Obviously him having Phil Jackson making decisions in the front office, they’re going to what you believe is put them in position to be successful and by that I mean getting talent around them.  I think it’s overblown to believe that somebody from the front office could win or lose ball games.  This is going to be on Derek Fisher.  And if it’s not on Derek Fisher, then he loses credibility within that locker room.

I’m sure he understands that.  But he’s a young talented basketball mind that’s going to do very well.  And I think it’s a trend that has gone that way lately.  And some have been very successful and some haven’t.  But I think ultimately you’ve gotta do your homework with knowing who you’re selecting to spearhead your next move as an organisation and a franchise.

I was curious after seeing him play this preseason and knowing Kobe, how do you envision him playing this year, considering coming off of two major injuries?

JACKSON:  I think he’s going to be aggressive.  I think he’s going to be in attack mode.  I think he’s going to score the basketball.  But I think that’s a team that’s going to struggle.

When you talk about the talent level and having the battle in the Western Conference, he’s got to be incredible or have an incredible season for them to have a chance to make the playoffs.

They’re just a team that’s in the process of changing right now.  But it’s refreshing as a fan of the game to see him back.  But I think the talent level around him will make it a tough season for the Los Angeles Lakers.

With regard to Russell Westbrook, I am curious where you both would rank him in terms of best player in the game or best players in the game, and just how ready do you think he is to take on this challenge of carrying the Thunder team without Kevin Durant?

JACKSON:  I love Russell Westbrook.  He’s as good as it gets.  Extreme motor.  Extreme passion for the game.  Extreme competitor and playing against or coaching against Russell Westbrook, it baffled me when people would talk about they needed him to be more of a point guard.

NBA on ESPN - December 25, 2013I wish he was – in coaching against him – more a point guard because it would make life easier for me as an opposing coach to game plan against him.  I think what makes that team so dangerous or what has made them so dangerous and so successful has been that two-headed monster of Durant and Westbrook.  As great as Durant is, I think Westbrook’s greatness and his constant attack mode makes life so much easier for everybody else on the floor.

But he’s as good as it gets.  Not just at a point guard position, but he’s to me he’s a top five, top seven player in this league and I think that team is going to be successful in the absence of Durant and when he comes back they’ll take time to pick up where they left off.

I don’t have them missing much.  And that’s not to disrespect Durant.  I just think that obviously Scott Brooks has done an outstanding job coaching that team.  They’re loaded with talent.  And they have a culture of winning.  So they will find ways to win ball games along with Westbrook’s greatness.

Why don’t more teams run the triangle offense in the way the New York Knicks are expected to do this season?

JACKSON:   Obviously in this league you win with players and Phil Jackson had tremendous success in his coaching career with the triangle offense, with incredible basketball players, all-time great basketball players.

And I think that more than a system won the championship.  I think there are teams in this league that run part of the triangle offense.  But nobody has experienced the success of Phil Jackson with that system.

And talking about whether they’ll make the playoffs, I think they’ll be in the hunt along with some other improved teams in the Eastern Conference.  The question will be the challenge on the defensive end for the Knicks, the approach defensively, and I think the wildcard is Amare Stoudemire, watching him in the preseason he’s got a lot of body, looks like, sad to say, the old Amare.  He was a guy that was explosive at the rim, pick and pop as good as it gets, big man in the pick and roll situation.  But that’s a team that’s going to be in the mix with a bunch of other teams as far as chasing down a playoff slot.

Mark, do you agree that Houston is one of the five or six that could be a finalist?

JACKSON:  You’ve got two of the top 10 players in the world and game changers.  Dwight Howard, his ability to dominate from the paint position.  He looks healthy.  His

Harden: shooting Rocket

Harden: shooting Rocket

body looks live and James Harden, offensively he’s got it all, his ability to score the basketball, carry that team, get to the free throw line and put pressure on your defence.  I think the challenge with them won’t be scoring the basketball. The challenge with them will be being better on the defensive end.

And when they do that, they’re a dangerous team that’s certainly more than capable of winning it all.

From a coaching perspective what do you think about the idea of the Miami Heat running an offense primarily through Chris Bosh?

JACKSON:  That’s a great question.  And Chris Bosh is a proven guy.  When you look at his success in Toronto when he was the primary focus on the offensive end, his ability to post the basketball, isolating that post area, getting to the free throw line, he’s now added the ability to step out and shoot the three-pointer.  He’s a guy that certainly can carry that team at times.

But their success will depend on the health of Dwyane Wade, his explosiveness, how he’s able to bounce back from game to game.  He’s a guy that’s a game changer and proven to be able to carry a team offensively whether it be pick and roll, isolations – that team will win ball games because of the culture that’s been developed, the habits that they have, because of Micky Arison and Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra. I thought they did a great job of identifying Luol Deng, a guy who doesn’t have to prepare for a system. He knows how to play the game of basketball and he’s a winner.

I think this preseason I’ve heard four or five different teams claim to have the best back court in the league. Just wondered where you thought the Warriors fit in in that discussion, and also with Klay [Thompson] and Steph [Curry] playing together for a fourth season now, how do you see them expanding together as they go forward?

JACKSON:  I think there are a number of teams that can boast having the best back court in the league.  And certainly the Warriors are one of those teams.  I’m close to those guys.  Obviously, in my opinion they’re the greatest shooting back court that’s ever played in the game.

They certainly are in discussion for the best back court in the game.  And when you’re talking about Steph’s jump from what he was to an All-Star and All-Star starter and talk about Klay’s jump to where he is a guy that’s going to make a boatload of money and in my opinion the best two way shooting guard in the world, and it’s not even close. To see the summer they have had, both winning gold medal winners, and both high-quality, high-character individuals that defend and compete, I think they’re in the discussion and I would be biased to say that they are.

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