Hungry Jack's NBL
NBL Power Rankings: December 1
By Liam Santamaria
Every week this NBL season, I’ll be releasing power rankings.
They’ll drop each Tuesday night on NBL Overtime and then run on nbl.com.au the following morning.
Here’s my money-back guarantee: these rankings won’t ever correlate with the ladder. They also don’t reflect where I think each team will finish. Instead, like most ‘power rankings’, they represent how each team is currently tracking when you consider form, injuries, recent opponents, etc. In other words, the team on top is the one other teams do not want to be playing right now.
With that in mind, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Previous rank: 1
The Hawks have had a big week, playing a grand total of zero games as their hit-outs with New Zealand and Sydney were both called off.
For most teams those cancelled games would leave them feeling vastly underprepared. I doubt that’s the case for the Hawks, however, as Brian Goorjian’s squad looked terrific in their brief action during the Blitz. They’re stacked, healthy and ready to go.
This week: @ Adelaide
2. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Previous rank: 2
The energetic play of Ryan Broekhoff was a major takeaway from the Blitz. After a full pre-season, the former NBA sharpshooter is moving with quickness, shooting with confidence and just generally looks really locked in.
On the flip side, the injury cloud currently hovering over Zhou Qi isn’t ideal. The big fella rolled his ankle playing for China over the weekend and is currently questionable for SEM’s opening game.
This week: vs New Zealand
3. SYDNEY KINGS
Previous rank: 4
The Kings didn’t play this week, but they rise to third anyway on the back of New Zealand’s slide down the rankings.
Chase Buford’s squad managed a plethora of injuries throughout the pre-season and when you throw in last Saturday’s cancelled clash with Illawarra, the Kings enjoyed a less-than-ideal prep for Sunday’s home opener.
What we did see from them, though, was impressive. Xavier Cooks and Jarell Martin both look set for big seasons while Jaylen Adams teased his dynamic skillset during his brief time on the floor.
This week: vs Melbourne
4. BRISBANE BULLETS
Previous rank: 5
Blitz record: 3-1
Don’t take anything from Brisbane’s loss to Adelaide on Sunday as the Bullets sat out their entire starting line-up for that one.
Here are the major Brisbane takeaways from the Blitz: Lamar Patterson is back, Nathan Sobey never left and Robert Franks is a baller. That is a genuine Big Three.
This week: @ Tasmania
5. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Previous rank: 7
Hats off to Adelaide for winning the Blitz as there’s something very cool about CJ leading his team to the trophy named after his dad.
That said, I need to see this team grab a legit win before I rise them any further up these rankings.
I mean, the JackJumpers were thumping Adelaide last week when Magnay was put on ice. The same thing happened on Friday when Cotton’s night was ended midway through the third. Against the Bullets, the 36ers just edged past a squad resting their entire starting five.
Winning form is good form, that’s true. However, not all pre-season dubs are created equal.
So when the Sixers conquer The Jungle this week – or when they take care of Illawarra at home – I’ll give them more props.
This week: @ Perth, vs Illawarra
6. MELBOURNE UNITED
Previous rank: 6
The defending champs went down to SEM on Sunday but, to their credit, that was a high quality, tightly contested game.
Unfortunately, today’s announcement that Chris Goulding will miss their season opener due to a hamstring injury sees Adelaide jump above them.
This week: @ Sydney
7. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Previous rank: 3
I’ve got to be honest: this doesn’t feel good. The Breakers sat third on the power rankings last week as they were playing well at the Blitz and building some nice momentum. Then, of course, COVID hit their group.
With their head coach, majority owner and two key players all becoming unwell (as well as numerous other members of their travelling party), the Breakers are suddenly entering Round 1 thoroughly underprepared.
Here’s hoping everyone can get well soon and these guys can get on with playing ball.
This week: @ South East Melbourne
8. PERTH WILDCATS
Previous rank: 8
The Wildcats will be fine, they’re just a little vulnerable right now.
Both Bryce Cotton and Vic Law appear ready to have massive seasons, while Luke Travers is finally getting some NBA love.
Unfortunately, their injuries cannot be ignored. Todd Blanchfield (knee) is still sitting out while new import Michael Frazier II (groin) barely played at the Blitz. Then, of course, there’s Mitch Norton, who is set to miss the first month of the season due to bone bruising in his knee.
The Red Army will need to be in full force this weekend to ensure a winning start to the season.
This week: vs Adelaide, vs Cairns
9. TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS
Previous rank: 9
All is in readiness for the JackJumpers’ historic NBL debut.
Never mind the 30-point drubbing they took last Friday (they’re going to take their lumps) and don’t read too much into their bounce-back win over Cairns (although it was nice to see them shake off that loss).
It’s all about Friday night at this point, and the basketball world is PUMPED for it.
This week: vs Brisbane
10. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Previous rank: 10
Let’s start with the positives: Tahjere McCall is a gun, Nate Jawai looks ready to go and… umm… yeah nah, that’s all I’ve got.
The Taipans led the Blitz in turnovers, got very little production from their bench and, much to Adam Forde’s frustration, were unable to trigger much offence from their D.
All of that resulted in a winless pre-season for the Snakes ahead of a season-opener in the toughest environment in the league.
This week: @ Perth