Three in the Key's NBL Power Rankings for Round 14. (Photos: Perth Wildcats/Twitter; Illawarra Hawks/Twitter)

The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 14, with the Phoenix sliding down two spots and the Breakers sitting in last.

The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 14, with the Phoenix sliding down two spots and the Breakers sitting in last.

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 15 of the 2021/22 season.

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1. Melbourne United

Record: 13-4, Previous Ranking: 1st

It wasn’t an easy first half for the reigning champions against the Brisbane Bullets on Saturday night, but Melbourne United was able to put the clamps on the Bullets in the second half leading the side to its fifth straight win.

Jo Lual-Acui (20 points, eight rebounds, two steals, and two blocks) returned to United’s line-up and continued to demonstrate why he is considered an MVP candidate.

Melbourne have two huge clashes in Round 15 against fellow top-four opponents, Perth Wildcats on Thursday night, and Throwdown XV in the Fire Pit against the Phoenix.

2. Sydney Kings

Record: 11-7, Previous Ranking: 2nd

Another week, another masterclass from the Kings’ superstar Jaylen Adams.

The Kings improve their win streak to six, as they make a genuine push for top spot with one of the easier run homes in the NBL.

New recruit Ian Clark has proved his worth and might be one of the most important players for the Kings going forward.

Although the result was a lot closer than many would have expected, for the Kings the fact that they were able to hold off a valiant comeback is a testament to the improvements they’ve made thus far in the season.

Sydney travels to Cairns looking to get their second win against the Taipans in as many weeks.

3. Perth Wildcats

Record: 10-6, Previous Ranking: 4th

The return home for Perth Wildcats looked to have done wonders on the weekend in their matchup against Adelaide.

Perth came out blistering scoring 27 points in the first quarter, led by Todd Blanchfield who scored 17 points, shooting a perfect six for six from the field, which included shooting four for four from behind the arc.

The Wildcats play their final three road games in Round 15, travelling to Brisbane to face the Bullets, to Tassie to match up against the New Zealand Breakers.

Before that Perth will come up against Melbourne United in another mouthwatering contest on Thursday night to begin Round 15.

4. Illawarra Hawks

Record: 11-7, Previous Ranking: 5th

For weeks now I have come into these power rankings and stressed how bad the Hawks defence has been, so what do they do? Hold the Phoenix to 22 per cent from three-point range and allow 77 points.

Brain Goorijan may have found something in this game, although not an elite defensive showing, his side showed massive flashes of being an above-average defensive unit.

As the Hawks hold onto fourth place, for now, their defensive improvement may be the sole factor in keeping them above the red-hot Kings side behind them in fifth.

Illawarra’s offence still hasn’t clicked and is still giving teams many issues, especially in transition, if they begin to click on both ends the Hawks may enter the finals as genuine favourites.

5. South East Melbourne Phoenix

Record: 11-6, Previous Ranking: 3rd

A disappointing week for South East Melbourne despite splitting its double this week as they defeated a highly competitive Adelaide 36ers before losing to Illawarra.

The Phoenix have gone on multiple win streaks this season, however, whenever they are tested against the upper echelon teams, they can’t seem to get over the line.

Simon Mitchell would be disappointed with his team’s performance in the last quarter, after being up by double digits in the latter stages of the third quarter.

If this team wants to establish themselves as title contenders, they need to start winning against teams surrounding them in the top four.

South East Melbourne has an opportunity to redeem themselves as it clashes with the ladder leaders Melbourne United in Throwdown XV on Sunday afternoon.

6. Tasmania JackJumpers

Record: 8-9, Previous Ranking: 6th

The JackJumpers hold the fort in sixth position after a scrappy win over the lowly Breakers at the Launceston Silverdome. It certainly wasn’t pretty but this has often been the case this season, Scott Roth’s men’s defence has bailed them out of an underwhelming offensive performance.

It’s rare to win in this league shooting 35 per cent from the floor, even more rare to win shooting 11 per cent from three-point range, but that was the feat managed by the Tasmanians. MiKyle McIntosh had his best game of the season, with 21 points off the bench.

With finals seeming more and more unlikely, it is important to remember the unlikely and unexpected success this team has managed in its first year in the league.

The JJs will take on the Taipans away in Cairns and host Illawarra at home this week.

7. Brisbane Bullets

Record: 6-11, Previous Ranking: 7th

The Brisbane Bullets were another team that split its double in Round 14, They were impressive against Melbourne United in the first half of the contest but United was too classy. However, Brisbane took advantage of the undermanned New Zealand Breakers to add another win to its overall record.

Head coach James Duncan would have been happy with Robert Franks (20 points and 10 rebounds v United, 23 points and 10 rebounds) and Jason Cadee’s (17 points and five assists v United, 22 points, nine assists and four steals v NZ) performances in Round 14.

Next Star Tom Digbeu (11 points) impressed and will get more opportunities with Nathan Sobey out due to injury.

The Bullets host the Perth Wildcats on Saturday night, which will be a difficult task with Nathan Sobey still out with injury.

8. Adelaide 36ers

Record: 5-11, Previous Ranking: 8th

Adelaide is lucky to retain eighth spot this week after dropping a close one to South East Melbourne before being battered by Perth at home. Unfortunately, it was a disappointing weekend in an already disappointing season for the 36ers.

No Humphries or Bairstow is forcing issues at both ends of the floor for Bruton. This was pretty evident against Perth where the 3ers shot 31 per cent from the floor as Perth managed to shoot 49 per cent against a lacklustre defence.

Injuries aside, there still needs to be a serious conversation internally about recruitment this off-season, almost all of Adelaide’s signings have been underwhelming.

Adelaide has a chance to improve their spot on this list, taking on NZ at home.

9. Cairns Taipans

Record: 4-10, Previous Ranking: 10th

Scott Machado is back!

It might be the only good news for coach Adam Forde and the Snakes, but at least it’s something.

Machado was great in the 10 point loss to the red hot Kings, with 26 points, three rebounds and eight assists. Stephen Zimmerman has also been showing something over the last few weeks.

Otherwise, it’s more of the same for the Taipans, who admittedly have been better than we thought they would be. They’re obviously just playing for pride at this point, but it’s important for next season to end the year as positively as possible.

The Taipans will be hoping to see continued improvement from Majok Deng who has been impressive so far this season.

Cairns will play host to Tasmania and Sydney in Round 15.

10. New Zealand Breakers

Record: 4-12, Previous Ranking: 9th

Record: 4-12, Previous Ranking: 9th

Two losses in round 14 of the NBL see the Breakers back at the bottom of the power rankings.

Missing Yanni Wetzell has proved to be a massive obstacle too far to overcome for Dan Shamir, as his offensive presence was deeply missed in their two games.

New Zealand will be gutted to not have walked away from Launceston with a win. However, a dominating game from Next Star Ousmane Dieng will give the side plenty of confidence for the remainder of the season.

With Chasson Randle looking comfortable in his new side, the Breakers will be desperate to get their full-strength squad back, as they could seriously make some noise by stringing a few wins together to salvage their season.

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