The Three in the Key Podcast’s NBL Power Rankings have dropped for Round 15, with the Kings soaring into top spot while the Phoenix continue their slide.
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 16 of the 2021/22 season.
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1. Sydney Kings
Record: 12-7, Previous Ranking: 2nd
With their second win in under a week against the Taipans, the Kings finally capture the top spot on our power rankings.
In what has been an incredible turn of form for Chase Buford’s men, Sydney has firmly established itself as a championship contender.
On the back of another astonishing game from Jaylen Adams (24 points and seven assists), the Kings have undoubtedly justified their spot in our rankings.
Sydney has now won seven in a row, however, five of those seven have come against the bottom four sides.
After announcing new investors, the Kings have plenty of reason to celebrate and will enter their match-up with the Phoenix full of confidence.
2. Perth Wildcats
Record: 13-6, Previous Ranking: 3rd
It was a huge week for the men from the west.
Perth finished its final road trip of NBL22 with three wins, handling its business against ladder leaders Melbourne United, Brisbane and New Zealand in what was probably the game of the season.
Vic Law appears to be performing back to the level he was earlier in the season, putting his hand up to be selected in the All NBL First team. Across Round 15, Law averaged 27.7 points and 11.3 rebounds in Perth’s three wins.
The 26-year-old had a ridiculous game against the Breakers on Monday night, finishing with 39 points (17-23 FG, 73 per cent efficiency), eight rebounds and two blocks. Bryce Cotton was also a key factor in Perth’s win, finishing the game with 32 points, including the game-winner, eight rebounds, and eight assists.
According to @nblfacts, it was the first time in NBL history a team has won three road games in three different states within a five-day span,
The Wildcats will now have their eyes set on nine home games to finish the season. They start their run of games at RAC Arena on Sunday when they play host to the Breakers.
3. Melbourne United
Record: 14-5, Previous Ranking: 1st
Melbourne United can consider itself unlucky dropping to third this week despite still sitting on top of the NBL ladder, however, we couldn’t go past Perth and Sydney’s form.
United was unable to overcome the Wildcats last Thursday, and head coach Dean Vickerman was not happy post-match, seething at his side’s defence as they conceded 97 points.
Melbourne’s guards had problems stopping Mitch Norton and Bryce Cotton, while its bigs struggled to keep Vic Law off the boards.
Melbourne was able to snatch victory from cross-town rivals South East Melbourne Phoenix in Throwdown XV.
United was led by Matthew Delladova (22 points and four assists) but particularly Chris Goulding (16 points and seven rebounds). Trailing by 12 in the final quarter, ‘CG43’ turned the game around, scoring 13 of his 16 points in the final term.
Nothing to worry about here for United, who have won seven of their last 10 games. Melbourne will look to carry on its momentum from the Throwdown when it matches up against Adelaide in Round 16.
4. Tasmania JackJumpers
Record: 10-9, Previous Ranking: 6th
Who’s jumping on the JackJumpers for the top four train?
Tasmania finds itself on the fringes of the top four, sitting in sixth behind Illawarra and South East Melbourne thanks to its efforts in Round 15. The JackJumpers defeated the Taipans and Hawks, extending their win streak to three.
It was the Josh Adams show in Cairns, scoring 20 points while the JackJumpers’ defensive prowess held the Taipans to 69 points. Against Illawarra, it was Clint Steindl (20 points) and Jack McVeigh (19 points) combining for 39 points.
You have to give it up to Scott Roth and his coaching staff for what they’ve done with this team. Despite not being one of the greatest offensive teams, you can’t take them lightly as they will clamp you up defensively.
In its first year, South East Melbourne won nine games, and Tasmania has already bypassed that with 10 wins.
No matter how the JackJumpers finish NBL22, it already has been a success for the NBL’s newest expansion, and Scott Roth should be heavily considered for the coach of the year award at the end of the season.
After beating the Hawks last weekend, the JackJumpers play host to them again in the upcoming round.
5. Illawarra Hawks
Record: 11-8, Previous Ranking: 4th
Just when it looked like Illawarra was gathering momentum with three-straight wins and plenty of improvement defensively, the Hawks slipped once again after a tough loss to the JackJumpers in Round 15.
After being blown out in the second quarter, Illawarra fought back hard and held Tasmania to under 20 points in the final two quarters.
However, it wasn’t enough as the JackJumpers held on for an impressive win. Many questions were thrown in the direction of the Hawks, mainly, how did they let that second quarter blow out?
Right when he thought he had it sorted out, Brain Goorijan has a lot of work to put in this week as Illawarra prepare for South East Melbourne and a much-anticipated rematch with Tasmania.
6. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Record: 11-7, Previous Ranking: 5th
South East Melbourne continue to slide down our power rankings. This round, the Phoenix let victory slip as Melbourne United came back from 12 points down.
This was the second straight game that the Phoenix have struggled to close out, giving up sizable second-half leads. That is the reasoning for their demotion down not only our rankings, but also the NBL ladder, where they find themselves in fourth.
South East Melbourne’s imports Zhou Qi (16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks) and Xavier Munford (24 points) had very good games after several quiet performances.
At the moment, the Phoenix’s championship credentials are looking sketchy and they will need to prove to us why they deserve to be higher on our list in the coming weeks.
South East Melbourne will get a chance to redeem itself in Round 16 as it faces Illawarra away before hosting Sydney.
Could we see the Phoenix move up this list next week? We will have to wait and see.
7. Brisbane Bullets
Record: 7-12, Previous Ranking: 7th
We said last week that Brisbane’s matchup against the Perth Wildcats would be difficult since the Bullets are still without star guard Nathan Sobey.
The Bullets did a good job to keep the encounter close in the first half, trailing by only five points. However, Brisbane let itself down in the third quarter, only scoring eight points while allowing Perth to score 26 points.
The Bullets tried to come back in the fourth, but their sluggish performance after halftime left them with too much to do.
Robert Franks and Lamar Patterson continue to score the ball in Sobey’s absence, but until Sobey returns, Brisbane may struggle to find wins.
This week Brisbane take on Queensland rivals, the Cairns Taipans, who it has lost to twice already this season.
8. New Zealand Breakers
Record: 5-14, Previous Ranking: 10th
What a week it could have been for the men from New Zealand, falling agonisingly close to what would have been the upset of the season against Perth, after taking down Adelaide.
If it wasn’t for the most clutch shot of the season from Bryce Cotton, the Breakers may have found themselves soaring further up the power rankings.
Dan Shamir’s side has proved on their day they can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the NBL. The Breakers will take many positives from the loss and build on their spectacular outing.
Allowing a combined 71 points from Cotton and Vic Law will be a massive talking point for the Breakers, however, their impressive win over the 36ers is sure to fill them with some much-needed confidence.
New Zealand will be on upset alert in Round 16 as it travels to Perth, hungry to avenge this heartbreaking loss.
9. Cairns Taipans
Record: 4-12, Previous Ranking: 9th
Adam Forde would have been disappointed by his team’s efforts in Round 15, as Cairns lost both of its games.
Against the JackJumpers, the Taipans struggled to put the ball in the hoop, scoring only 69 points in 40 minutes of basketball. Big man Stephen Zimmerman continued to show Adam Forde what he can do when the ball is in his hands, finishing the game with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
The Taipans were unable to match the Kings, who were without Xavier Cooks, going down 86-77.
The scoreboard flattered Cairns’ performance, as Sydney lowered its intensity and allowed the Snakes to put some respect on the scoreboard in the last few minutes of the game.
Forde showed he isn’t afraid of challenging his players if they don’t perform to the level he expects them to. The 40-year-old head coach dropping Majok Deng out of the starting line-up against Sydney after his poor performance against Tasmania was a prime example.
The Taipans will travel to Adelaide and Brisbane this week as they match up against the 36ers and Bullets, teams who they’ve already beaten this season.
10. Adelaide 36ers
Record: 5-12, Previous Ranking: 8th
On a night where the Adelaide 36ers were celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 2002 championship, they lost to the New Zealand Breakers and find themselves falling to the bottom of our power rankings.
The 36ers struggled shooting the ball which has been a theme in most of their losses this season. On Saturday, they shot 39 per cent from the field, shooting 29-74 for the game.
Adelaide struggled to shoot well from three-point range once again, shooting at just 13.6 per cent and connecting on just 3-of-22 from beyond the arc.
Despite the disappointing loss, Kai Sotto’s continued development was something positive head coach CJ Bruton can take from the game. The 19-year-old played the best game of his young professional career.
The talented prospect finished the game with a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds. Sotto has progressively shown us a little bit of his skill set every time he gets on the court.
Adelaide will play host to Cairns before travelling to Melbourne to face United.
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