Hungry Jack's NBL
NBL Power Rankings: April 6
By Liam Santamaria
You know the drill. Each week I release my power rankings, dropping them on NBL Overtime and then running them here on Wednesday mornings.
You also know how they work. It’s a list that represents how each team is currently tracking, considering form, injuries, illness, recent opponents, etc. In other words, the team on top is the one other teams do not want to be playing right now.
1. SYDNEY KINGS
Previous rank: 1
The Kings have won ten in a row and continue to go from strength to strength. Xavier Cooks (ankle) has fully recovered, Ian Clark is feeling more at home and Jaylen Adams, well, he is arguably the league MVP at this point.
They won’t arrive this week, but a couple of upcoming clashes with the Hawks loom large on the schedule.
This week: @ Adelaide, @ New Zealand (in Bendigo)
2. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Previous rank: 2
Brian Goorjian’s squad took another big step forwards across Round 18 as they notched up wins over both the Bullets and United. That’s now five victories in a row for the Hawks (including two over the defending champs) and eight wins from their past nine games.
We’re also at a point where Antonius Cleveland – the man who sparked this Illawarra resurgence – should be considered for a spot on the All-NBL First Team. As a guy likely to be classified as an ‘outside’ player, he would slot nicely alongside Bryce Cotton and Jaylen Adams in that squad.
This week: @ Brisbane
3. MELBOURNE UNITED
Previous rank: 4
Monday night’s win in Perth served as an impressive bounce-back for Melbourne after consecutive losses to the red-hot Hawks.
It was a performance driven by championship-level defence, particularly in the second half, as well as some serious shot-making from their starting backcourt. If United can consistently defend at that level, they’re going to be very hard to beat in the bump and grind of the playoffs.
This week: @ South East Melbourne, @ Cairns
4. PERTH WILDCATS
Previous rank: 3
There’s been a bit going on for the Wildcats recently, including an unsuccessful attempt to bolster their roster, an injury to their starting PG and, of course, three straight Ls on their own home court.
All that means that this week’s match-up with the Breakers has suddenly taken on must-win game type of vibes.
This week: vs New Zealand
5. TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS
Previous rank: 5
The Jackies got jumped by Sydney over the weekend as the Kings made off with their Jordans, their phones and a 20-point win.
That loss came after a solid victory in Adelaide that more closely resembled the gritty style that has served Tasmania so well. A return to form against the Taipans, and a shock loss for the Wildcats, would keep them in touch.
This week: vs Cairns
6. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Previous rank: 9
There are very few things as dangerous as a Coastal Taipan and its toxic venom has been known to kill playoff dreams in a matter of hours. South East Melbourne found that out the hard way in Round 18 and Tassie will need to be careful to avoid the same tragic fate.
Winners of three straight games, and four of their past five, the Snakes are currently playing their best ball of the season.
This week: @ Tasmania, vs Melbourne
7. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Previous rank: 6
The Phoenix, on the other hand, have rarely looked worse. Last year’s semi-finalists have lost their mojo, lost their edge and, in the process, lost six of their past seven games.
Fortunately for SEM, the atmosphere of a Throwdown might be exactly what they need to get themselves going.
This week: vs Melbourne, @ New Zealand (in Bendigo)
8. BRISBANE BULLETS
Previous rank: 8
The Bullets hold steady in the power rankings after going down to the Hawks and creeping past the 36ers.
Nathan Sobey (knee) has been ruled out for the rest of the season, which is a setback, however Next Star Tim Digbeu has been flashing his talents lately, which has been very fun to watch.
Curiously, Brisbane’s schedule this week is essentially a mirror image of last weeks, as they face the exact same opponents but in different venues.
This week: vs Illawarra, @ Adelaide
9. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Previous rank: 7
The Sixers dive in the rankings this week after taking a couple of Ls across Round 18. To their credit, CJ Bruton’s guys are fighting the season out, but the reality is that they’ve gone down in eight of their past ten games.
With an eye focused on the future, maybe it’s time to pump minutes and touches into talented prospect Kai Sotto. Let’s see what the kid can get done in 25 minutes of run.
This week: vs Sydney, vs Brisbane
10. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Previous rank: 10
The Breakers are in a deep, dark place right now and, looking at the schedule, it’s only going to get tougher over the next ten days.
With that in mind, let’s focus on a couple of positives. Firstly, Ousmane Dieng continues to make massive strides. The 18-year-old is an unbelievable talent and watching him blossom in the second half of the season has been a real silver lining. Secondly, Yanni Wetzell only knows one way to play. It’s thirsty work but, no matter what happens, you won’t see any quit from the Pretzel.
This week: @ Perth, vs South East Melbourne (in Bendigo), vs Sydney (in Bendigo)
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