Photo: @MelbUnited; @SydneyKings/Twitter

The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 11, with the Kings soaring back into the top four as the 36ers find themselves last for the first time.

These NBL Power Rankings are predicated on current form and short-term expectations for the squad. They aren’t a prediction of where teams will finish the season on the ladder, but rather an expectation on how they will perform in their upcoming games with consideration given to injuries and form.

This is the Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings ahead of Round 12 of the 2021/22 season.

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1. Melbourne United

Record: 9-4, Previous Ranking: 2nd

Melbourne snapped its two-game losing streak in a big grand final rematch against the Perth Wildcats.

United looked in dire straits after letting Perth score 29 points in the first quarter, however, they were able to turn the tables on their opponents, outscoring the Wildcats 37-19, in the second quarter.

Dean Vickerman placed defensive guard Shea Ili on Bryce Cotton, Ili was able to slow down last year’s MVP and help extend Melbourne’s lead.

Although Cotton finished the game with 31 points, Ili’s impact during the middle quarters was a huge reason United walked away with the win.

Now sitting on top of the NBL ladder and our power rankings, Melbourne will go in with full confidence into Throwdown XIV, where they will face cross-town rival South East Melbourne who sits in third. United will also match up against the Breakers in Round 12.

2. Perth Wildcats

Record: 8-4, Previous Ranking: 1st

On Saturday night, the Perth Wildcats looked to have figured out how to solve their slow first quarter performances, putting 29 points on the league’s best defensive team, Melbourne United.

However, they were unable to sustain that momentum, until the last quarter. After being down by 18 points at three-quarter time, Mitch Norton and Bryce Cotton dragged them to within 6 points but just fell short in captain Jesse Wagstaff’s 400th game.

Norton (21 points, four assists, and two steals) produced a gutsy stat line after injuring his shoulder during the match, while Cotton (31 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals) continue to show why is still the best player in the competition.

Among the things, Scott Morrison will want to improve is his team’s rebounding. The Wildcats were outrebounded 53-43. Perth’s transition defence will also need to improve after allowing Melbourne easy avenues to the basketball on multiple occasions.

The Wildcats will look to bounce back in Round 12 when they travel to Sydney to face the Kings.

3. South East Melbourne Phoenix

Record: 8-4, Previous Ranking: 3rd

Another mixed round for the Phoenix, with two games at home at John Cain Arena. They dropped one against the Sydney Kings, before defending home court against Tasmania.

Ryan Broekhoff (25 points and six rebounds) played his best game of NBL22 against the Kings, although he might still be going through his shooting slump, he has shown he can still contribute to winning basketball.

Head coach Simon Mitchell will want to get Zhou Qi firing again, like he was earlier in the season, after going through a lean patch of form.

South East Melbourne is lucky to hold on to third position in the power rankings with the Kings recent form. But we’ve given one more week to prove themselves, especially with a clash with Melbourne United in Throwdown XIV.

4. Sydney Kings

Record: 8-7, Previous Ranking: 6th

The Kings walked away from Round 11 with two wins after surviving some intense late-game situations against the Phoenix and Bullets respectively.

The usual fourth-quarter struggles for the Kings still seemed evident, however, Chase Buford’s men have some drastic improvement – highlighted with the late win over Brisbane.

Xavier Cooks, Jaylen Adams and Jarrell Martin starred on both sides of the court for the Kings and look to be one of the deadliest trios in the league.

Although Adams had a poor showing for his standards against the Bullets, his clutch dunk and assist got his side over the line as he starts to look very settled in the NBL after some early-season struggles.

5. Illawarra Hawks

Record: 7-6, Previous Ranking: 4th

The Hawks returned to the winner’s circle with an unconvincing win over the injury-depleted Taipans.

Illawarra has been going through the motions and shown slight signs of improvement, however, this current side is a far fetch from the Hawks from the start of the season.

An impressive outing from Duop Reath was enough to steal the show and give his side a six-point victory, but Brian Goorijan should be worried about his sides’ constant struggles on defence.

The Hawks retained their spot in the top four and will need to continue to work on their defence if they are to get back to the elite side they once were.

6. Tasmania JackJumpers

Record: 6-7, Previous Ranking: 4th

It was a brief foray into the top half of the power rankings for the JackJumpers, a spirited but costly defeat to the Phoenix sees the boys from the south slip into sixth spot.

It was a tale we have seen before this season, the JackJumpers struggled to shoot the ball at a decent percentage on the road. It’s been a problem for the majority of the year, however, there has been promising recent results that this issue had been addressed.

In this game against South East Melbourne, the JJs shot just 37 per cent. This team will not win games where this is the case.

It doesn’t get any easier this week with a tough trip to Illawarra.

7. Cairns Taipans

Record: 3-5, Previous Ranking: 7th

A tough week for the Snakes going 0-2. Two close losses keep them just above local rivals Brisbane. Majok Deng continues his great year with another two solid games.

A six-point loss to the Hawks doesn’t look terrible but a one-point loss at home to the Breakers does not fill us with optimism for the rest of the Taipans season.

Coach Forde has definitely instilled some discipline in this squad, and there are truly good signs. Cairns is certainly better than we thought they would be.

This week brings the Hawks again, also a lowly Adelaide in a must-win clash.

8. Brisbane Bullets

Record: 5-8, Previous Ranking: 8th

Another team this week which had a mixed round, the Bullets took care of business in Adelaide, thanks to Lamar Patterson’s performance (32 points, six assists, and five steals).

Head coach James Duncan will feel like they let one slip in the game against the Kings on Sunday. The Bullets were two points up and had possession, with 16 seconds left to go in the last quarter, but a turnover and some spectacular moments from Kings’ guard Jaylen Adams held Brisbane back.

Despite the loss, there were positives to come out of the game, Robert Franks (18 points and nine rebounds) looked to have returned to his best, while also forcing the Kings to shoot 38 per cent from the field.

Brisbane will now look to get back on the winner’s board, in its clash against South East Melbourne in Round 12.

9. New Zealand Breakers

Record: 4-9, Previous Ranking: 10th

The Breakers remain on the bottom of the NBL ladder, however, after holding out a late comeback from the Taipans, Dan Shamir should be happy with the recent stretch of form.

They’ve won three out of their last five as they bid to move off the bottom of the ladder. 

The starting line-up for the Breakers has been key in carrying the side through this tough period, with Chasson Randle coming back from injury, introducing him to the starting five in place of Jeremiah Martin will undoubtedly see the Breakers pick up more wins.

It was another impressive outing for Yanni Weztell, who had 23 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and six steals to go along with 61 per cent shooting from the field and three.

10. Adelaide 36ers

Record: 4-7, Previous Ranking: 9th 

A close loss to a very inconsistent Brisbane side sees the lowly 36ers endure a lonely existence at the bottom of the rankings. 

Bad news gets worse after news this week that marquee signing Isaac Humphries is set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. This sets up both Cam Bairstow and Filipino wonder kid Kai Sotto for some bigger minutes in CJ Bruton’s offence. 

It’s been a disappointing year, but there is still plenty to play for. Adelaide takes on fellow strugglers Cairns at home this week.

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