Hungry Jack's NBL
NBL Power Rankings: January 5
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: 2
They’ve made it! The only change in the power rankings this week sees the Wildcats rise to the number one spot.
They’ve got exceptional talent, a winning culture and have built great momentum over the season’s first 5 weeks.
It must be said, however, that while Bryce Cotton was amazing, the squad as a whole wasn’t overly convincing in their win over the Taipans. Nonetheless, the ‘Cats have been playing games which is more than can be said for some other teams (including the Phoenix) over the past few weeks.
This week: @ Adelaide
2. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Previous rank: 1
By the time South East Melbourne step on court against Cairns it will have been twenty-one days since they last played. That’s a long time between drinks and there’s bound to be an element of rust for Simon Mitchell’s group.
It’s not going to be an easy return to action, either, as these two opponents have been competing well.
This week: @ Cairns, vs Tasmania
3. MELBOURNE UNITED
Previous rank: 3
The defending champs have won four in a row on the back of some really dominant work at the defensive end.
Offensively they were actually troubled this past week by Tasmania’s relentless pressure. With the JackJumpers extending their D and employing aggressive ball-screen coverages, United coughed up a massive 22 turnovers. That’s the most ever by a United team under Dean Vickerman. Assistant coaches from around the league will be closely studying that tape.
This week: @ Illawarra
4. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Previous rank: 4
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Hawks with a large percentage of their roster dealing with the physical impacts of COVID.
Returning from that to a match-up with an in-form United squad is an almighty challenge, even on their own home court.
This week: vs Melbourne
5. BRISBANE BULLETS
Previous rank: 5
The Bullets are another squad who have been knocked around recently and are faced with the challenge of building back up.
Last time we saw them in action, James Duncan’s men were really impressive as they toppled the Hawks. Can they recover that momentum?
This week: vs New Zealand, @ Cairns
6. SYDNEY KINGS
Previous rank: 6
All things going well, this week should see the return of import point guard Jaylen Adams to the Sydney line-up.
Here’s hoping he’s good to go as the Kings currently rank last in the league for offensive efficiency, having played all but one game without his scoring and play-making.
This week: @ Tasmania
7. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Previous rank: 7
The good news for Cairns fans is that import Tahjere McCall has been cleared of any structural damage to his knee, opening the door for a potential return this week.
The other positive is that Adam Forde has this squad playing with terrific energy and Most Improved Player candidate, Majok Deng, is in career-best form.
This week: vs South East Melbourne, vs Brisbane
8. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Previous rank: 8
These past few weeks can’t have been fun for the Sixers, as they sat in isolation and stewed over their sub-par effort in Cairns.
Unfortunately, their opportunity to bounce back has been even further delayed, with this week’s match-up with Perth postponed until Wednesday next week.
The positive: more time on the practice court to work on getting back and getting stops.
This week: vs Perth
9. TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS
Previous rank: 9
The JackJumpers have been competing well in recent weeks as they led Sydney for three quarters, beat the Breakers and then took Melbourne right to the wire.
If they can manage their way through their current COVID issues - and improve their execution in crunch time - their next win won’t be too far away.
This week: vs Sydney, @ South East Melbourne
10. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Previous rank: 10
New year, new Breakers! Time to grab that elusive first win.
This week: @ Brisbane
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