Hungry Jack's NBL
NBL Power Rankings: March 16
By Liam Santamaria
Every week this NBL season, I’m releasing my power rankings.
They drop each Tuesday on NBL Overtime and then run here the following morning.
Here’s my money-back guarantee: they 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, illness, 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. PERTH WILDCATS
Previous rank: 3
There’s a change at the top of the rankings this week, with the Wildcats rising to the number one spot.
They’re healthy, they’ve got two of the top five players in the league and they’re now making a concerted effort to block out and rebound. Add to that nine straight home games and everything’s coming up Wildcats.
This week: vs New Zealand
2. SYDNEY KINGS
Previous rank: 2
With Jaylen Adams currently playing at an MVP level, the Kings have won seven in a row and hold their place here inside the top two.
That said, it’s worth noting a couple of things. Firstly, star forward Xavier Cooks sat out their last game with an ankle issue and there’s currently no official word on his timetable. Secondly, five of those seven wins have come against the league’s four bottom teams. Their schedule is about to get a little tougher with their next three all on the road against fellow playoff contenders. Things are about to get interesting.
This week: @ South East Melbourne
3. MELBOURNE UNITED
Previous rank: 1
It’s so close at the top of the rankings that one loss has seen the defending champs tumble all the way down to third. That’s how the cookie crumbles, however, when you lose to the Wildcats and the Kings haven’t dropped a game since early Feb.
That said, there are no major concerns about United. Yeah, their D has been less consistent in recent times, but they’ve still won six of their past seven with another W coming this week.
This week: vs Adelaide
4. TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS
Previous rank: 6
Scott Roth’s victory celebrations are fast becoming legendary as the JackJumpers continue to defy expectations and stay in the hunt.
Tassie have currently won three in a row and, after beating the Hawks last weekend, they host them again in the upcoming round.
This week: vs Illawarra
5. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Previous rank: 5
That’s now two games in a row where the Phoenix have let sizeable second-half leads turn into losses. They clearly have an issue with closing out games.
They’ve also got some problems down the other end. Across the six-week period since the start of February, the Phoenix have won only half of their games and rank last in the league for defensive efficiency. Prior to that they ranked third in defence, only behind Melbourne and Tassie, and notched up six wins from their first eight games. Time to re-ignite that energy on D.
This week: @ Illawarra, vs Sydney
6. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Previous rank: 4
Just when the Hawks were starting to gather some momentum they went down to Tassie and were outplayed by a team that gives them problems.
Brian Goorjian’s men will need to find solutions ahead of this week’s rematch, but first they’ll head back to Melbourne to take on the Phoenix. With everything so close on the ladder, these are essentially playoff games for each of these squads.
This week: vs South East Melbourne, @ Tasmania
7. BRISBANE BULLETS
Previous rank: 7
The Bullets played well against Perth but just couldn’t sustain the required level for the full 40 minutes. That really has been the story of Brisbane’s season, to be honest. At times their defence has stood up and their ball movement has been on point, but when those things fluctuate things start to go the other way.
This week the Bullets take on their Queensland rivals, whom they’ve lost to twice already this season.
This week: vs Cairns
8. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Previous rank: 10
Man, you have to feel for the Breakers.
Clutch shots from Vic Law and Bryce Cotton delivered them their fourteenth loss of the season and robbed them of their first winning streak of the year.
The positive is that they’re playing much better. Yanni Wetzell is back from injury, Peyton Siva has found his groove and the French Connection, Hugo Besson and Ousmane Dieng, are having an impact.
This week: @ Perth
9. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Previous rank: 8
The 36ers lost their fifth straight game over the weekend as they went down to the Breakers in their old home gym. It was another rough shooting night for Adelaide as they connected on just 13 percent of their long-range attempts.
All of that sets up a battle for last place against the Taipans on Friday night, before a visit to Melbourne to take on the ladder-leaders.
This week: vs Cairns, @ Melbourne
10. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Previous rank: 9
The Snakes drop back to last spot this week after picking up another couple of Ls.
There wasn’t much to feel good about in the loss to Tassie but their effort in the last few minutes against Sydney was a window towards who they need to be. This is a group that’s at their best when they’re up the floor pressing, trapping and creating chaos with their length. Combine that with some more paint touches for Stephen Zimmerman and they’ll be on the right track.
The good news: the Taipans have previously chalked up wins over both of their upcoming opponents.
This week: @ Adelaide, @Brisbane
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