Hungry Jack's NBL
NBL Power Rankings: March 2
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. MELBOURNE UNITED
Previous rank: 1
Nothing to see here as the defending champs hold firm at the number one spot.
United were without their MVP candidate this week but his absence barely slowed them down, as they went to Cairns and notched up yet another win.
This week: vs Brisbane
2. SYDNEY KINGS
Previous rank: 2
Another week, another heart-stopping victory for the Cardiac Kids.
Jaylen Adams’ clutch shot in Adelaide delivered the Kings their fifth straight win and their seventh salute from their past eight games.
For a team that struggled to execute in crunch time earlier in the season, it’s worth noting that each of Sydney’s past four wins have been decided by five points or less. With Adams running the show, those fourth quarter fade-outs are a thing of the past.
This week: vs Cairns
3. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Previous rank: 4
South East Melbourne’s win over Perth was the statement victory they needed after a heavily disrupted month of February.
It was a result that strengthened their hold on second spot as they advanced their record to 10-5 and, following the game, Simon Mitchell perfectly articulated their situation.
“Right now, with a full squad, it’s a really good opportunity to try to string some wins together,” the Phoenix coach stated.
“That’s now two (straight wins) for us, we haven’t got more than three this season… we’ve just got to keep ourselves up in that top two and give ourselves a really good chance down the stretch.”
This week: @ Adelaide, vs Illawarra
4. PERTH WILDCATS
Previous rank: 3
The Wildcats snapped a three-game losing streak on Monday and a quick trip home this week will further lift their spirits.
Another positive for the ‘Cats is their improved effort on the glass over their last three games. Defensive rebounding has been an issue over the course of the season but a concerted effort to box out has reaped some rewards. That improvement will be sternly tested on Sunday when they take on Bairstow & Co.
This week: @ Adelaide
5. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Previous rank: 6
The Hawks got the job done in Round 13 as they notched-up wins over Adelaide and New Zealand.
That’s now four Ws for Illawarra from their past five games but keep in mind: all of them have come against the bottom three teams. That said, the Breakers did whack the Hawks last time they met so turning the tables on that result was a step in the right direction.
This week’s clash against the Phoenix is a big one.
This week: @ South East Melbourne
6. TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS
Previous rank: 5
This was always the concern about life without Will Magnay.
With the big fella on the sidelines, the JackJumpers have zero rim protection and that’s a big problem when your defence revolves around pressure on the perimeter. In Round 12, Tassie overcame that issue by catching fire but this week their shooting returned to the mean and their “porous” D, as their head coach described it, saw them drop both of their games. They really need Magnay back on the floor.
This week: vs New Zealand
7. BRISBANE BULLETS
Previous rank: 7
The Bullets let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers this week when they went into Cairns and walked out with an L. Their head coach, James Duncan, said there was “a little bit of selfish play” in that performance and he was bang on, as their lack of ball movement wound up costing them that game.
Duncan would’ve been happier with their effort against the JackJumpers, however, as the Bullets equalled their season high tally for assists and put plenty of points on the board. Lamar Patterson, who dropped a career-high 10 dimes, is a huge part of that process and Brisbane become very tough to guard when he’s creating for others.
This week: @ Melbourne, @ New Zealand* (in Hobart)
8. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Previous rank: 8
The 36ers dropped both of their games in Round 13 which sunk their overall record to 5-9.
That said, CJ Bruton’s men did compete well in their second game – a heart-breaking loss to Sydney – as they played with great energy and Dusty Hannahs caught some rhythm at the offensive end.
Unfortunately, things aren’t about to get any easier with a couple more clashes against top four teams up next on the schedule.
This week: vs South East Melbourne, vs Perth
9. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Previous rank: 9
Injuries to numerous players, including star centre Yanni Wetzell, left New Zealand pretty short-handed in Round 13 and they wound up getting overrun by the Hawks.
If they get Wetzell back – and stop giving up so many lay-ups – the Breakers will give both of their Round 14 games a shake.
This week: @ Tasmania, vs Brisbane* (in Hobart)
10. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Previous rank: 10
Hats off to the Snakes for their win over Brisbane as Scott Machado’s clutch play delivered a much-needed victory.
Adam Forde’s squad went down to Melbourne later in the round but, to be honest, they almost did enough this round to regain ninth spot on the rankings. The fact is, though, that’s just one win for the Taipans from their past six games while every other team has grabbed at least two over the same stretch. If they can somehow find a way to topple the Kings, they’ll jump up the board.
This week: @ Sydney
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